Sexual activity protects the brain from ageing

Even in old age, regular sex could protect the brain from ageing and delay any physiological cognitive decline. A Coventry and Oxford university study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological and Social Sciences analysed the relationship between sexual activity and cognitive functions. The study followed 28 men and 45 women, aged between 50 and 83 years. Participants were asked to respond to a questionnaire which estimated their sexual frequency during the last year and provide information on their lifestyle and health.

The participants also underwent Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination III (or Ace III), which is a standardised test that measures various cognitive functions such as concentration, memory, language, and visuo-spatial skills average among the elderly. This enabled the assessment of the correlation between sexual activity and maintenance of cognitive faculties.

A more active sex life was linked to higher Ace III results. Participants who said that they had more frequent sex showed higher language and (more marginally) visual-spatial ability results.

Coventry University researcher Hayley Wright, who coordinated the study, said: "There are hypothesis on the phenomenon’s possible physical or social causes and we would like to explore the biological mechanisms that influence this relationship further. Research provides new pieces in the jigsaw of helping us get closer to understanding why this association exists, its mechanisms, and if there is a 'cause-effect' relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function in old age."