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Viagra pumps up older Swedes' sex lives

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Swedes active in the 1940s have reached their eighties. File photo: Gunnar Lundh/Nordiska museet
11:08 CET+01:00
Sales of potency medication to the over-65s have soared by 48 percent, with older Swedes testifying to sex as the "spice of life".

Sveriges Radio (SR) reported on Monday that Swedish doctors increasingly prescribe medication such as Viagra to patients in their sixties and older. 

In 2006, 37,000 65+ men were given access to potency medication. Five years later, that number had climbed to 55,000 men, show statistics from the National Health and Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen). 

Erik, 78, has used potency medication with his girlfriend Gun, 80.

"It adds spice to life to be able to have sex," Erik told SR. "To be able to take pleasure from it, to hear your partner's sounds."

The Sweden's National Association for Sexuality Education (Riksförbundet för - RFSU) published a report in 2011 on the sexuality of older people, in which the author pointed out there was a lack of targeted efforts to help the 65+ generation access advice and support. 

"Instead, we see a silence and a taboo around the individual's needs and questions about emotions and sexuality," the report noted.

As baby boomers enter the age bracket, the need to discuss older Swedes' sex lives would become all the more important from a public health point of view, the RFSU rapporteur argued, while also noting that men and women born in the 1940s had more of a culture of asking for information than previous generations. 
 
The report argued further that older generations may suffer disproportionately from stereotyping in relation to sex. 
 
"There is prejudice in all generations, not least among the older persons themselves," the report noted. "A common idea is that women aren't allowed to have sexual needs, which makes it difficult to talk about and ask about sex." 
 
An academic study from Lund University, however, also drew attention to the simplistic picture of male sexuality - "always willing with a rock-hard erection". 
 
Yet the researchers noted after conducting several in-depth interviews with older men that one of the most frequent words used was "intimacy". 
 

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"Intimacy means a lot of different things to the men, but what they have in common is that intimacy represents a renegotiation and an attitude that sex is more than intercourse," the Lund study noted. "That sexuality is allowed to take time - and in which an erection isn't given - and that it doesn't mean that (sex) becomes worse."
 
Malmö University sexuality researcher Sven-Axel Månsson told SR on Monday that the rise in potency medication use could have several causes, and said there was no taboo. 

"It's nothing one is ashamed of," he said. "There is a demand from men (...) and the medication is easy to get your hands on."

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