Midlife sex: what’s not to like?

Midlife sex: what’s not to like?

Scientists from Oxford and Coventry Universities have just published research suggesting the brain-boosting effects of regular sexual activity on 50-somethings’ verbal fluency and visual memory. You can only assume champion Scrabble players go at the act of intimacy like crazed stoats.

None of these revelations come as a huge surprise. Poets have known for centuries that passion is the path to the most enthralling verse. No one walks away from the collected works of Shakespeare without knowing they’ve encountered a writer with extensive experience of physical rapture. It just took science a while to catch up.

Professors at Rutgers University in New Jersey, armed with a state-of-the-art MRI scanner, have shown the brain floods with blood, oxygen and nutrients at the point of orgasm – activating key areas associated with neurological function. It’s not often I can boast this, but as far as I know I’m the only British woman to have donated an orgasm to science as part of Rutgers’ ongoing research project. (Yes, this did involve self-stimulation in a clanking metal tube in a sterile white room, but I will not elaborate in this newspaper.)

My trip to New Jersey allowed me to talk to the boffins at some length about the physical, mental and emotional benefits of sex. Frequent exercise improves almost every aspect of human function, so it makes sense horizontal exercise is a universal panacea. Men who remain sexually active are less likely to suffer prostate cancer, while female enthusiasts enjoy cardiovascular benefits. There’s also evidence that people who maintain active sex lives live longer than those who don’t. And then there’s sex’s mood-enhancing properties: swifter and surer than any medication.

Although, we surely don’t need scientists to tell us people who enjoy a fulfilling love life tend to be more cheerful and relaxed than their more frustrated counterparts. Whenever I’ve encountered a particularly grumpy and obstructive person in the workplace, I’ve thought, “There’s an individual who could do with a little more loving.”

The fact we now know sex has brain-enhancing properties is just the cherry on the icing on the erotic cake. Although, admittedly, it does give sensualists an excellent excuse to disport themselves even more frequently. Finding the crossword a bit tricky today? Simply grab your beloved and enjoy an instant boost to your neural connectivity. The producers of Mastermind and University Challenge may find themselves having to install love cubicles in place of a green room, to allow contestants their best shot at success.

But surely this news is most cheering for the older section of the population, who live in dread of encroaching dementia. They can throw away the fish oil and take up good, old-fashioned knee-tremblers instead.