The over 65’s – nearly three quarters of people in this age range have a romantic partner and 54% of those with a partner are sexually active.

A US survey has revealed that 84% of men and 69% of women between 65 and 80 believe sex is important to a relationship at any age.

The findings are part of the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, and was compiled from research on 1,000 participants aged between 65 and 80.

40% of those surveyed reported being sexually active, just over half of men and just under a third of women. Age was a factor amongst this older group, with a quarter of those aged between 76 and 80 reported to being sexually active, compared with 46% of those aged 65-70.

Gender also determined sexual interest, with 12% of women reporting having a strong interest in sex, whereas over 50% of men said the same.

The poll also explored how older adults might seek help or advice for sexual problems, and if they’ve talked with their doctors about their sexual health.

It revealed 1 in 5 older men use medications or supplements. 18% older men and 3% of older women say they have taken medication or supplements to improve sexual function in the past two years.

However, only 17% of older adults said that they have talked with a doctor or another health care provider about their sexual health over the past two years.

Lesley Carter, Age UK, said it is time to get rid of stereotypes and misconceptions about sex in older age: “We know as younger people if you don’t get [sex] enough then you are quite miserable, but that is the same thing in older people.”

She added: “I think we as a society have to agree that older people have a right to good sexual health too, because every message is always about younger people.”

The research shows that there isn’t a cut off age for being interested in sex and sexually active, and it can be just as important in later years, but highlights that more people need to talk with their healthcare providers about sexual issues.