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It gets better: Gay men aged over 65 have the happiest sex lives

It gets better: Gay men aged over 65 have the happiest sex lives

An older gay male couple kissing.

Gay and bi men aged over 65 are the happiest with their sex lives and, in general, satisfaction seems to grow with age.

And there’s good news for anyone diagnosed with HIV too – you are just as likely to have a happy sex life as people who are HIV negative or don’t know their status.

That’s according to the biggest sex survey of gay and bi men in England, out today.

These are the proportions of gay and bi men who are happy with their sex lives, according to their age group:

  • 15-19: 60%
  • 20-24: 63%
  • 25-29: 62%
  • 30-34: 58%
  • 35-39: 55%
  • 40-44: 58%
  • 45-49: 54%
  • 50-54: 55%
  • 55-59: 56%
  • 60-64: 64%
  • 65+: 70%

Dr Ford Hickson, lecturer in health promotion at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine lead the study of 15,360 men for Sigma Research on behalf of UK sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust.

He told GSN: ‘Reducing HIV or any other sex infections isn’t a success if you make people miserable in the process.

‘That’s why sexual health organizations are starting to talk about “the best sex with the least harm”.’

The most common reason for people not being happy with their sex life is ‘I’d like a boyfriend or a lover or a partner’. Other reasons are ‘I’m not having enough sex with the person I’m with at the moment’ or wanting more sexual partners. People are also concerned about picking up and passing on sexual infections.

Why gay and bi men are less happy with their sex lives in their 40s is not clear. Men in their 40s are often less happy with their lives. And it may be that at that age, they have a high desire for sex but less access to it, while over 65, that desire tends to wane.

The study also found:

  • 77% of gay and bisexual men have been tested for HIV, up from 72% in 2010.
  • 55% have tested in the past 12 months, up from 36% in 2010.
  • But a quarter of gay and bi men had never had an HIV test.
  • A third of sexually active gay men had unprotected anal sex with at least one non-steady partner in the past 12 months.

And on chemsex:

  • 7% have taken mephedrone, GBH/GBL and/or crystal meth in the past four weeks.
  • 42% of men living with HIV felt alcohol/drugs played a part in getting the virus.

Dr Hickson told GSN: ‘Nationally, chemsex isn’t very common. But it’s  very concentrated in big cities and in particular groups of friends and social networks. So it’s perfectly common for a gay man for everyone they know to be involved in it.

‘They tend not to approach sexual health clinics because they think sexual health services don’t know anything about drug and drug services won’t know anything about sex. So we need to bring those two things together because the potential for harm is very high for people doing it.’

The research was conducted in 2014 but results were only released today.