Manila, August 7, 2003 (STAR) Sexual problems increase with age, yet the majority of people over the age of 40 still want and, indeed, have vibrant sex lives, according to data from the Pfizer Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors presented recently at the 2nd International Consultation of Erectile and Sexual Dysfunctions held in Paris.

Sexual dysfunction increases with age in both men and women but, on the whole, men and women remain sexually active well into their middle and later years.

In fact, like their younger counterparts, many people aged 40 to 80 continue to make sex an integral part of life – 44 percent of men and 37 percent of women surveyed have sexual intercourse at least five times per month.

Another recent survey of 1,482 men between the ages of 40 and 69 in the United States uncovered further insights into sexual habits. Although the majority of men in the survey didn’t have sex everyday, nine out of 10 men who had sex in the past month said that when they did have intercourse, they had it at most once a day or multiple times within a four-hour window.

Additionally, the time between the first moment men thought they might have intercourse and the beginning of intercourse, was, on average, about an hour.

The Pfizer Global Study also explored the importance of pre-intercourse activities. Interestingly, foreplay remained key to the sex lives of many older men and women.

Indeed, 86 percent of respondents engaged in foreplay – which was reported to typically last from five to 30 minutes – prior to intercourse.

"It’s clear that mature men and women still want all that sex has to offer, including foreplay, emotional closeness and physical pleasure," said Edward Laumann, Ph.D., George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.

"Because sexual problems can diminish the quantity and quality of sexual activity and the overall relationship, men and women should not silently accept these changes as a natural part of the aging process," Laumann said.

More than 100 sexual health experts gathered in the Paris meeting in an effort to advance the understanding of sexual function and improve the care of those with dysfunction.

Data presented from the Pfizer Global Study, a landmark survey of more than 27,000 men and women aged 40 to 80 in 29 countries, found that men suffered from a variety of sexual problems as they move into later life, with premature ejaculation and erectile difficulties cited as two of the most prevalent conditions.

Erectile difficulties are especially troublesome for men in the oldest age groups. Women also suffer from various sexual problems, including lack of interest in sex and inability to reach orgasm. However, the occurrence of these problems was reported to decrease in the older age groups.

"Poor sexual health can increasingly challenge a couple’s physical and emotional well-being as they age," said Laumann. "Untreated sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and lack of sexual arousal, can reduce self-esteem and lead to intimacy avoidance and, overall, can have quite a negative impact on an individual and his partner."

Sexual health is an important part of overall health and well-being as poor sexual function is highly associated with negative physical and emotional experiences in relationships, low general happiness and an overall poor quality of life.

Erectile dysfunction is one of the common male sexual health problems worldwide, affecting more than 140 million men to some degree.

Pfizer Inc. discovers, develops, manufactures and markets leading prescription medicines for humans and animals, and many of the world’s best-known consumer products.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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