First of its kind study of midlife Canadians explores sexual health attitudes and behaviours
TORONTO, May 11, 2016 /CNW/ - Canadians are opening up about their sex lives. For the first time, midlife Canadians share the intimate details of their sexual attitudes and behaviour. The newly-released study found that as they age, sexual pleasure does not decrease. In fact, the majority of midlife Canadians have become more adventurous than they were a decade ago.
The study, which was commissioned by the makers of Trojan™ products, is the first sexual health survey to provide detailed insights into the sex lives of Canadians between the ages of 40 and 59. The study was developed in partnership with the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN) and asked 2,400 participants to provide detailed information about their sexual health, happiness and pleasure, in addition to their sexual behaviours and attitudes.
Sexual pleasure does not decrease with age. Regardless of age category, 65 per cent said their last sexual encounter was very pleasurable. The study revealed that the overwhelming majority of midlife Canadians say that their current primary relationship is emotionally satisfying (46 per cent very satisfying, 87 per cent at least somewhat satisfying). Just over 50 per cent of men and women surveyed say that their sexual health is excellent or very good and almost all (92 per cent of men and 88 per cent of women) feel that their sexual health contributes to their overall health.
About 40 per cent of married/cohabiting respondents report having sexual encounters once or more per week, while 30 per cent of singles report the same frequency. For the majority of Canadians, their last sexual encounter lasted between 16 and 30 minutes (75 per cent for married/cohabiting and 87 per cent of singles).
Over two-thirds of respondents who reported that they were sexually active stated that they were "very happy" or "happy" with the sexual part of their lives. A little over half of single respondents report the same. Most respondents in the 40 to 59 age group were sexually active in the previous three months, especially those who were married or cohabiting
"There is a public perception that as we age, sex becomes less important, less enjoyable and less frequent," says Dr. Robin Milhausen, sexuality and relationship researcher at the University of Guelph. "The study findings indicate that most midlife Canadians are indeed leading satisfying and active sexual lives. Sexual and relationship satisfaction were highly interrelated – and the most emotionally satisfied in their relationships reported the highest level of pleasure. And married people are reporting sex as pleasurable as their single counterparts, in fact, married men reported more pleasure at last sexual encounter than single men. So the future looks bright for midlife Canadian relationships."
The research also revealed that as they get older, midlife Canadians are more likely to want to be adventurous. More than half of those surveyed (63 per cent) said they are more interested in trying new things to enhance pleasure than they were a decade ago. Lubricant use for intercourse increased with age with 22 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women aged 55 to 59 using lube at last sexual intercourse. Vibrator use was common, with 40 per cent of women reporting that they used a vibrator the last time they masturbated.
Let's talk about sex
Frequent communication was strongly associated with sexual satisfaction, according to the research. People who said they were very sexually satisfied were also the most likely to report frequently communicating with their partners about their sexual likes and dislikes and this held true for both women and men.
"Not enough Canadians are speaking up about their sex lives," says Milhausen. "When asked if Canadians have spoken directly to their partner about their sexual preferences – for example, the ways they like to be touched, like to have oral sex and how they like to have intercourse – half of this sample indicated that they do not often open up to their partner. Communication is key to a satisfying and pleasurable sex life and this data strongly backs that up."
The six minute rule
What midlife Canadians do after sex is one of the strongest predictors of sexual pleasure in relationships. So despite the notion that more cuddling and kissing beforehand leads to better sex, the study reveals that for women and men, post-sex affection is just as important, if not more important, for sexual pleasure. This seems to be especially the case for women; 71 per cent of women who had six to ten minutes of post sex affectionate behaviour rated their most recent intercourse as very pleasurable compared to 44 per cent women who had zero to five minutes of post-sex affectionate behaviour.
This does not mean that Canadians should not forget about foreplay – it is still very much a part of midlife Canadians' healthy sexual lives, regardless of marital status. While the overwhelming majority (94 per cent) of all respondents reported being affectionate (cuddling and kissing) with their partner before their last encounter, single Canadians are making foreplay last longer. More than 70 per cent said foreplay lasted longer than 10 minutes compared to only 54 per cent of married couples.
Many single midlife Canadian are at high risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
According to Stats Canada, 53 per cent of Canadians are single either because they are divorced, separated or never married. There is a growing concern that sexually active men and women are not protecting themselves against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The study findings confirm that this concern is warranted for midlife Canadians. Concern about STIs is low: 56 per cent of single men and 61 per cent of single women are "not very concerned" or "not at all concerned" about contracting an STI. This lack of concern seems to be translating into high risk behaviour. Among those who were sexually active, over half (55 per cent of) of single men and 32 per cent of single women had two or more partners in the previous 12 months. Most alarmingly, almost two thirds (65 per cent) of single men and almost three quarters of single women (72 per cent) did not use a condom at last intercourse.
"We have a lot of work to do to bring single midlife Canadians up to speed on the need for safer sex, particularly with respect to consistent condom use" says Alex McKay Ph.D., Executive Director of the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN). "The single people in this sample of midlife Canadians are not very different in their sexual behaviour patterns than the university students from the earlier Trojan™ study, but their rates of condom use are considerably worse. This may be because younger adults are likely to be using condoms for pregnancy prevention and are more knowledgeable about STIs, they may be more likely to know, for example, how common STIs really are and that most cases of STI have no symptoms." For more detailed information on the findings of this study related to STI risk please visit the SIECCAN website at www.sieccan.org
Although most surveyed lead a happy and active sex life, the study revealed that sexual problems are common within this age group. Over a third (42 per cent) of the women and 30 per cent of the men in the survey indicated that "My level of sexual desire (interest in having sex) is lower than I would like it to be." One third of the men between the ages of 55 and 59 (30 per cent) indicated "I have trouble getting and maintaining an erection." Alarmingly, when asked who midlife Canadians turn to for information and advice related to sexual health issues, 47 per cent turned to the Internet while only 44 per cent turned to a family doctor.
Other notable findings from the Trojan™/SIECCAN Sexual Health Study:
- 75 per cent of our sample reported having a sexual encounter in the previous 12 months (71 per cent in the previous 6 months)
- 60 per cent of men masturbate once or more per week which is significantly higher than females at 23 per cent
- Frequency of masturbation declines with age but 74 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women in the 55-59 age group report masturbating once a month or more
- 47 per cent of mid-life Canadians engaged in oral sex in their most recent sexual encounter
- Singles were more likely to engage in oral sex than married/cohabiting person (56 per cent versus 38 per cent)
"We are proud to partner with SIECCAN to commission this first of its kind study exploring the sexual health attitudes and behaviours of midlife Canadians," said Sherry Fodor, Group Marketing Manager of Reproductive and Sexual Health Division of Church & Dwight Canada. "As a leading innovator and advocate for sexual wellness in Canada, Trojan™ is committed to championing dialogue on this important health topic. We look forward to presenting the research findings at The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada's Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting in Vancouver this June, where health care professionals will gather to learn and discuss women's health."
ABOUT THE TROJAN™/SIECCAN MIDLIFE SEXUAL HEALTH STUDY
The sample was comprised of 2,400 Canadian midlife adults (1,200 men and 1,200 women) between the ages of 40 and 59 (25 per cent in each of four age categories: 40-44; 45-49; 50-54; and 55-59). 91.5 per cent were heterosexual. Participants were Leger panelists; the panel was created using a random telephone recruiting method and is comprised of approximately 460,000 member's representative of the Canadian population. Participants completed an online questionnaire assessing sexual health, happiness, and pleasure in addition to sexual behaviours and the experience of sexual problems. Do not know/prefer not to answer responses have been removed from the data.
Trojan™, owned by Church & Dwight Co, Inc., is the number one selling and pharmacist recommended condom brand in Canada. Trojan™ brand products are of the highest quality with a long heritage of reliability and satisfaction. Trojan™ products are distributed by Church & Dwight Canada Corp, a leader in OTC health care, family planning and personal care with brands including; First Response™, Gravol™, Rub A535™, Ovol™, Orajel™, Spinbrush™, Arm & Hammer™ and Replens™. Trojan™ Condoms increase pleasure while reducing the risk. To learn more, please visit Trojan.ca, weknowsex.ca and churchdwight.ca.
Image with caption: "SIECCAN (CNW Group/Trojan)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160511_C6013_PHOTO_EN_687802.jpg
Image with caption: "Trojan (CNW Group/Trojan)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160511_C6013_PHOTO_EN_687806.jpg
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