HEALTH

Seniors Take To Message Boards To Talk About Sex

Senior citizens go online to talk about just how much sex they're still having

HEALTH
Illustration: Vocativ
Jul 27, 2016 at 4:29 PM ET

There are two things that young people tend to hold as exclusively their own: sex and the internet. But a new study shows that not only are old people using the internet, they are using the internet to talk about sex, and they are talking about all the sex that they themselves are having

In the study published in the journal Leisure Sciences, researchers analyzed 14 different message boards for seniors with names like “Cool Grandma,” “IDF (I Don’t Feel) 50,” and “The Over 50 Golden Group.” Sex-related threads made up less than 1 percent of the nearly 700,000 posts analyzed, but several of these threads had thousands of views and posters commented on the large number of silent lurkers. The big takeaway: Old folks are getting it on and having a great time.

“Although some older adults reported abstaining from sexual activity due to health conditions or loss of interest, others refused to renounce sexual activity,” said co-author Liza Berdychevsky. “Their health problems or society’s ageist stereotypes that portray seniors as asexual were not going to become excuses to give up on life—or sex.”

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Many posters emphasized that it’s possible to stay sexually active “well into [your] 80s and 90s” and that “90% of sex happens between your ears.” Some irreverently announced, “After all we are all simply older not DEAD!” and “we are sexual until we drop!” In fact, one poster wrote, “Well, I ain’t bragging but my libido is actually better now than it was at thirty [and] I shall be eighty next month.”

They described sex as playing an essential role in their lives, calling it “one of the things making life worth living” and “a part of spirituality.” As one poster put it, “sex to me has always been uplifting and I will tolerate no other attitude.”

Sex was also described in less lofty terms as a fun leisure activity—because, hey, how else are retired people supposed to fill their time? No, seriously, as one poster put it, “Most of us have more spare time than ever before and find ways to enjoy that!” Another wrote, “I could croak today and not feel at all cheated, but since I’m stuck here I might as well enjoy myself.” The poster went on to elaborate that enjoying oneself meant, “more sex [and] another Jack Daniels.” Old people wisdom, it’s real.

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The sex-related conversations weren’t all so chipper, of course—there was talk of ailing bodies, sexual dysfunction, and the death of partners, too. But the researchers, from the University of Illinois and Ben-Gurion University, noted how the seniors “described myriad adventurous, innovative, and adaptive coping strategies, which include dating, experimenting with sex accessories, using sex aids and medications, and reappraising sex lives.” Sex aids! We’re talking everything from vibrators to vacuum pumps. One poster wrote (about what, it’s unclear), “Don’t worry; it only seems kinky the first time.”

Of course, all of this dramatically contradicts the stereotype of older people as innocent bridge-playing celibates. As one senior wrote, “I think that some people are under the mistaken idea that people over 50 are asexual beings and that it is somehow shameful for them to talk about sex and, even worse, to have sex.” If anything can change that perception, it just might be the internet.