previous cross-sectional studies have reported bidirectional associations between sexual activity and cognitive function among older people. However, the temporal associations have not been studied.
community-dwelling men aged 70+ from the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project were assessed. This study was based on 986 men at baseline, 829 men at 2 year and 595 men at 5-year follow-up. Sexual function using a standardised questionnaire (erectile function, sexual activity, sexual satisfaction, sexual desire) was analysed by generalised estimating equations to examine associations between changes in sexual function and changes in mini-mental state examination (MMSE) across three time points over 5 years. Age, BMI, comorbidity, self-rated health, smoking, number of medications, country of birth, education, marital status, depression and reproductive hormones were also measured at all time points.
in unadjusted models, declines in erectile function (β = −0.317) and sexual activity (β = −0.575) over time were statistically significantly associated with a decline in MMSE over time. The associations observed in the unadjusted models remained after adjusting for a range of covariables. Declines in sexual satisfaction and sexual desire over time were not associated with changes in MMSE.
our findings provide evidence of a longitudinal temporal relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function. Further studies are warranted to examine whether maintaining a healthy sexual life has a positive effect on cognitive function in older men.