Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Breathlessness and sexual activity in older adults: The Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Ekström, Magnus; Johnson, Miriam J.; Taylor, Bridget; Luszcz, Mary; Wohland, Pia; Ferreira, Diana H.; Currow, David C.


Magnus Ekström

Bridget Taylor

Mary Luszcz

Pia Wohland

Diana H. Ferreira

David C. Currow


© 2018 The Author(s). Sexual activity is important to older adults (65 +). Breathlessness affects about 25% of older adults but impact on sexual activity is unknown. We evaluated the relationships between breathlessness and sexual inactivity and self-reported health among older community-dwelling adults in the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Associations between self-reported breathlessness (hurrying on level ground or walking up a slight hill) at baseline, self-reported sexual activity, overall health and health compared to people of the same age were explored using logistic regression at baseline and 2 years, adjusted for potential confounders (age, sex, marital status, smoking status and co-morbidities). Of 798 participants (mean age 76.4 years [SD, 5.8] 65 to 103; 53% men, 73% married), 688 (86.2%) had 2-year follow-up data. People with breathlessness had higher prevalence and duration of sexual inactivity (77.7% vs. 65.6%; p < 0.001; 12 [IQR, 5-17] vs. 9.5 [IQR, 5-16] years; p = 0.043). Breathlessness was associated with more sexual inactivity, (adjusted OR 1.75; [95% CI] 1.24-2.45), worse health (adjusted OR 2.02; 1.53-2.67) and worse health compared to peers (adjusted OR 1.72; 1.25-2.38). Baseline breathlessness did not predict more sexual inactivity at 2 years. In conclusion, breathlessness contributes to sexual inactivity and worse perceived health in older adults, which calls for improved assessment and management.


Ekström, M., Johnson, M. J., Taylor, B., Luszcz, M., Wohland, P., Ferreira, D. H., & Currow, D. C. (2018). Breathlessness and sexual activity in older adults: The Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing. NPJ Primary Care Respiratory Medicine, 28(1), Article 20 (2018).

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 30, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 22, 2018
Publication Date Dec 1, 2018
Deposit Date Jul 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jul 19, 2018
Journal npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine
Electronic ISSN 2055-1010
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 1
Article Number 20 (2018)
Keywords Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health; Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
Public URL
Publisher URL


Article (492 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

You might also like

Downloadable Citations