Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 815–829 | Cite as

Sexual Activity and Sexual Satisfaction Among Older Adults in Four European Countries

  • Bente TræenEmail author
  • Aleksandar Štulhofer
  • Erick Janssen
  • Ana Alexandra Carvalheira
  • Gert Martin Hald
  • Theis Lange
  • Cynthia Graham
Original Paper


The aim of this article was to describe partnered and non-partnered sexual activity and sexual satisfaction in older men and women from Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Portugal, and to explore sociodemographic correlates of sexual activity and satisfaction. Data were collected in 2016 using postal, anonymous questionnaires in probability samples of the population aged 60–75 years recruited by phone registers in Norway (676 men, 594 women), Denmark (530 men, 515 women), Belgium (318 men, 672 women), and Portugal (236 men, 273 women). In men, the percentage of sexually active participants in the past year ranged from 83% in Portugal to 91% in Norway. In women, the percentage of sexually active participants during the last year ranged from 61% in Belgium to 78% in Denmark. Regarding frequency of sexual intercourse activity during the past month, men in Norway, Denmark, and Belgium (23–24%) most often reported 2–3 times per month, whereas most men in Portugal (29%) reported 1–3 times per week. Masturbation was most commonly reported among Norwegian men (65%) and women (40%), and least commonly in Portugal. Concerning sexual satisfaction, across all countries, 40–60% of participants reported that they were sexually satisfied. Portuguese men and Danish women reported being most sexually satisfied. Having a partner was the most important positive predictor of sexual activity and sexual satisfaction in all subgroups except Portuguese men. In conclusion, partnered sexual activity was more frequent in the south of Europe, and solitary sexual activity more frequent in Northern Europe.


Older adults Sexual satisfaction Sexual activity Europe 



Funding was provided by The Norwegian Research Council (Grant No. 250637).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bente Træen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aleksandar Štulhofer
    • 2
  • Erick Janssen
    • 3
  • Ana Alexandra Carvalheira
    • 4
  • Gert Martin Hald
    • 5
  • Theis Lange
    • 5
    • 6
  • Cynthia Graham
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  3. 3.Institute for Family and Sexuality StudiesUniversity of LeuvenLouvainBelgium
  4. 4.ISPA-University Institute of Psychological SciencesLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.Department of Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  6. 6.Center for Statistical SciencePeking UniversityPekingChina
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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