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The Gap Between Desires and Reality in Sexuality of Males and Females Aged 60 and Over: Results from the Berlin Aging Study II (BASE-II)

3 March 2020

Publication date
28 August 2019

Original abstract


As the world's population over 60 continues to grow, there is increasing interest in older adults’ sexuality and its impact on their life quality and general health conditions. While sexual behaviour and sexual function have been described previously, desires for intimacy have received less attention. This study aims to explore the gap between desired and experienced sexual activities among individuals of older age in Germany while simultaneously addressing gender differences.


In total, 751 heterosexual individuals (aged ≥ 60 years, approx. 65% females) sampled from the Berlin Aging Study II completed the Questionnaire on Sexual Experiences and Partnership Quality (Q-SExPQ), which asks about body contact, exchange of touching, sex without intercourse and sex with intercourse, and the desire for these sexual activities. A mixed ANOVA was performed to compare the group differences in the sexual activities, particularly with respect to the desire for sexual contact.


The older adults experienced less frequent sexual activities than they desired. Men desired and experienced more frequent sexual activities. Additionally, persons in relationships had a stronger desire for sexual activities and experienced more frequent sexual activities, and consequently, they experienced only a moderate gap between their desires and reality. For exchange of touching, the gap of unmet desires was larger for women both in relationships and not in relationships. In contrast, for sex with intercourse, the gap of unmet desires was larger for men. Only those in relationships experienced more frequent body contact than they desired.


In the group of older adults investigated in this study, a gap between sexual desires and real sexual experience is shown, which varied with gender and relationship status. A lack of sexual fulfilment is likely to influence sexual and general health. Pertinent research, including studies on the effect of support programmes, is needed for clarification.

Beier, K.M., Kossow, S., Zhou, Y., Kroll, F., Neumann, B., Konrad, A., Mundt, I., Steinhagen-Thiessen, E., Demuth, I., Rosada, A. & Pauls, A. (2019). The gap between desires and reality in sexuality of males and females aged 60 and over: Results from the Berlin aging study II (BASE-II). Sexologies. DOI: 10.1016/j.sexol.2019.08.005

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old age, sexual desire and reality, sexual behaviour, sexual function, BASE-II, Berlin


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