Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 875–890 | Cite as

Sexual Touching and Difficulties with Sexual Arousal and Orgasm Among U.S. Older Adults

Original Paper


Little is known about the non-genitally-focused sexual behavior of those experiencing sexual difficulties. The objective of this study was to review the theory supporting a link between sexual touching and difficulties with sexual arousal and orgasm, and to examine associations between these constructs among older adults in the United States. The data were from the 2005–2006 National Social Life Health and Aging Project, which surveyed 3,005 community-dwelling men and women ages 57–85 years. The 1,352 participants who had had sex in the past year reported on their frequency of sexual touching and whether there had been a period of several months or more in the past year when they were unable to climax, had trouble getting or maintaining an erection (men) or had trouble lubricating (women). Women also reported how often they felt sexually aroused during partner sex in the last 12 months. The odds of being unable to climax were greater by 2.4 times (95% CI 1.2–4.8) among men and 2.8 times (95% CI 1.4–5.5) among women who sometimes, rarely or never engaged in sexual touching, compared to those who always engaged in sexual touching, controlling for demographic factors and physical health. These results were attenuated but persisted after controlling for emotional relationship satisfaction and psychological factors. Similar results were obtained for erectile difficulties among men and subjective arousal difficulties among women, but not lubrication difficulties among women. Infrequent sexual touching is associated with arousal and orgasm difficulties among older adults in the United States.


Sexual arousal Demography Orgasm Sexual behavior Sexual dysfunctions 



This research was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute on Aging, the Office of Women’s Health Research, the Office of AIDS Research, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development for the National Health, Social Life, and Aging Project (NSHAP R01AG021487, R37AG030481), the NSHAP Wave 2 Partner Project (R01AG033903), the Center on Demography and Economics of Aging (P30AG012857), the Population Research Center (R24HD051152), and the Specialized Training Program in the Demography and Economics of Aging (T32AG000243).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center on the Demography and Economics of AgingUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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