Sex 'can help old couples deal with illness'

A new study has suggested that a good sex life can help elderly couples to cope with a physical illness.

Generally, the diagnosis of a condition can put a strain on marriages, but this new information states that this could be because of a lack of intimacy between the two people involved.

Researchers analysed 732 couples between the ages of 65 and 72 and concluded that those having sex more frequently had a happier relationship.

To determine the standard of a relationship, the scientists involved surveyed the subjects on the negative and positive aspects of their marriages.

Emotional satisfaction was deemed to be a popular quality, while many picked out the fact that their partner criticises them as a bad aspect.

Husbands were found to be more generous in their praise for their partners than wives were, while black couples were deemed more negative than their white counterparts.

Adena Galinsky, lead author of the report, said that regular sex is important to a successful marriage.

On average, the couples that were analysed claimed to engage in sexual activity once per month, with all but 50 of them being married, while the others just lived together.

Most had been together for more than 40 years.

Amelia Karraker, a postdoctoral fellow at the Population Studies Center, said: "This paper helps contribute to our understanding of why poor health is associated with poor marital quality.

"Wellbeing in older age incorporates both psychological and physical wellbeing as well as sexual wellbeing, which can occur at the intersection of those two."

However, this doesn't prove that a lack of sex will mean a marriage isn't successful, as stated in the research.

Ms Karraker said: "The authors did a nice job of highlighting the idea that being sexually active isn't restricted to vaginal intercourse, but people can expand their idea of what sex is."