Sexual Behaviour in Canada: Patterns and Problems

By Benjamin Schlesinger | Go to book overview

Sexuality and the aged: taboos and misconceptions must give way to reality *

BENJAMIN SCHLESINGER AND RICHARD ALBERT MULLEN


INTRODUCTION

The 1971 Census of Canada indicated that among our total population of 21,568,310 people, 8 per cent were over the age of 65 years. This constituted 1,744,405 persons (781,865 male and 962,540 female).

We hear today a lot about pensions, senior citizens' power groups, Horizon projects for the aged, but very little about 'sexuality for the aged.'

In this report we do not set out to determine whether or not there is sexual life during later years. Masters and Johnson, David Reuben and others have convincingly established that there is sexuality in the later years. We set out to report their findings against a background of some of society's current myths and misconceptions to give a picture of sex in the later years. For purposes of clarity, the later years are taken to begin with the menopause in the individual male or female.

For generations sex has been linked with reproduction in religious and cultural settings and for economic and political reasons.1 Thus it followed that involvement in any sexual activity ended with the menopause. Reproductive capacity ends with menopause. The ability to enjoy sexual relations continues well past menopause - for some it continues into their ninth decade of life. But then, sexual enjoyment may be derived through other than actual sexual intercourse.

Old people may treat each other with the dignity and courtesy of a blossoming courtship. At night they go to bed and hold each other throughout the night

____________________
*
Reprinted from Medical Aspects Human Sexuality, Vol. 3, No. 11 ( November 1973), 46-53.

-66-

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