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Sex, health, and years of sexually active life gained due to good health: evidence from two US population based cross sectional surveys of ageing

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 10 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c810

The Puzzle of Statistics About Sex

I would like to believe, that frequent sexual activity produces
greater longevity and health. However, whenever I read such surveys, two
questions keep troubling me. The first one is, how do we know that
causality is not in the other direction; namely, that people with better
health to begin with, engage in more frequent sexual activity than do
people with poorer health? The second question is statistical. This
article reports, "38.9% of men compared with 16.8% of women were sexually
active"; granted, in the cohorts under consideration there are likely to
be more women than men, and couples are still likely to consist of
slightly older men and younger women. However, this is unlikely to
explain, how men manage to engage in intercourse at a rate double that of
their female partners. Could it be, that when questioned, men are more
likely than women to exaggerate their sexual activity?

Competing interests:
Male gender

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 March 2010
Joseph More
Waltham, MA, 02453