Association between pain and sexual health in older people: results from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Katie Wade, Frederick Wu, Terence O'Neill, David Lee

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There is little information on the impact of pain on sexual health in later life. The aim of this analysis was to determine the association between self-reported pain and sexual health in older men and women.
Data were collected for the nationally representative English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and older completed the Sexual Relationships and Activities questionnaire in wave 6 (2012/2013). Participants were asked (waves 1 to 6 [2002-2013]) if they were "often troubled with pain" and, how severe was their pain; mild, moderate or severe. The association between pain and sexual health was assessed using logistic regression. Analyses were stratified by gender, with adjustments made for age followed by adjustments for health and lifestyle factors, depressive symptoms and socioeconomic status.
Of the 3,916 participants who reported having sexual activity in the past year, 28% of women and 23% of men reported experiencing moderate or severe pain often at wave 6. After adjusting for age, compared to men experiencing no pain, men with moderate or severe pain reported less frequent intercourse and masturbation, more erectile difficulties, and more concerns about their sexual health. After age adjustment there were no associations between pain severity and sexual health among women. Of the 1,872 participants with a cumulative pain score, there were significant associations between reporting pain and concerns about sexual health in both men and women.
Pain was associated with impairment in sexual health in men and women though the effect was more marked in men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-468
Issue number3
Early online date25 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Cathie Marsh Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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