Britons start sex young and experiment into old age

Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:09pm EST
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By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) - Britons are having sex from their teens until well into their 70s and experimenting with experiences and techniques once dismissed as deviant, according to a major series of scientific studies of sexual behavior.

But while people may have expanded their sexual repertoire over the past decade, both men and women also told researchers they were having sex less often.

"People are working very very hard, they are very busy," said Kaye Wellings of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, when asked why she thought people had reported a drop off in average frequency.

The studies, published in The Lancet medical journal, were based on a national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles, the first of its kind to get data from people up to the age of 74.

One study also found one in 10 women and one in 70 men said they had been forced to have sex against their will at least once since the age of 13 - a problem that British authorities needed to address urgently, the researchers said.

"We need to start thinking about sex differently - sexual health is not merely the absence of disease, but the ability to have pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free from coercion," said Wellings, who co-led the series and presented the findings at a briefing in London.

Improving the quality of people's sexual experiences and relationships was also important for their broader health, the researchers added.

"Men and women who enjoy an active sex life are fitter, have lower rates of depressive symptoms and improved cardiovascular health as compared to those who do not," she and fellow researchers wrote in a commentary on the results.   Continued...