A study carried out by researchers from the University of Coventry and the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, has revealed that regular sexual activity could be linked to improved brain function in older adults.
The researchers found that people who had regular sex scored higher on tests that measured their verbal fluency and their ability to visually perceive objects and the spaces between them.
The participants filled questionnaires on how often, on the average, they had engaged in sexual activity in the past 12 months and they answered questions about their general health and lifestyle.
The 28 men and 45 women also took part in a standardised test, which was typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults, focusing on attention, memory, fluency, language and visuo-spatial ability.
The test included verbal fluency tests in which participants had 60 seconds to name as many animals as possible, and then to say as many words, beginning with the letter F, as they could.
The participants also took part in tests to determine their visuo-spatial ability, which included copying a complex design and drawing a clock face from memory.
The study noted that participants, who engaged in sexual activities every week, had the highest scores in both sets of tests, with the verbal fluency tests showing the strongest effect.
The researchers said the results suggested that the frequency of sexual activity was not linked to attention, memory or language as the participants performed well in these tests regardless of whether they reported weekly, monthly or had no sex.
The lead researcher of the study, Dr Hayley Wright, from Coventry University’s Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour, and Achievement, said, “We can only speculate whether this is driven by social or physical elements, but an area we would like to research further is the biological mechanisms that may influence this.
“Every time we do another piece of research we are getting a little bit closer to understanding why this association exists at all, what the underlying mechanisms are and whether there is a ‘cause and effect’ relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function in older people.
“People don’t like to think that older people have sex, but we need to challenge this misconception at a societal level and look at what impact sexual activity can have on those aged 50 and above, beyond the known effects on sexual health and general wellbeing.”