Vaginal Health

Jane Fonda, at 80, reveals why she's not having sex anymore

"I've closed up shop down there," the veteran actress says.

By Fiona Baker

Jane Fonda has talked a lot about sex in the past few years. Whether it's about trying out vibrators - just last year when she was 79, mind you - or telling us when she was 74, "I have never had such a fulfilling sex life", she has simultaneously given hope to women getting older, while also inspiring dread.

Today, she has made another pronouncement about her sex life - at the grand dame age of 80, the veteran actress has officially announced that she has "closed up shop down there".

"I'm 80," Fonda told entertainment news program Extra at the Los Angeles premiere of Book Club, a movie she stars in with Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen, and which opens in Australia in August.

Interestingly, the movie's central theme is about older women and sex, focusing on the sexual awakening of a book club members after reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

"It's about very important things: friendship and sex," the Grace and Frankie star said about the movie. "And that it's OK for older women to have both.

But she added: "I'm not dating anymore, but I did up until a couple of years ago."

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Sex over 80 - it's a (good) thing

Just last year some interesting research popped up about octogenarians getting it on - and doing it better than people even 30 years younger. And the evidence was not from some small random study held by an erectile dysfunction drug company, but came from data collected from the grand scale English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

A report from this study titled How long will I love you? Sex and intimacy in later life revealed that men and women over 80 reported more shared sexual compatibility and emotional closeness than those in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

Dr David Lee, a co-author of report, told The Guardian in reference to the study that sex was not defined by penetration.

"We saw quite a lot of adaptation in the older people, saying they no longer had penetrative sexual intercourse and were more content with kissing and cuddling and general intimacy. We kept a very broad definition of sex. We saw what appeared to be adaptive behaviour in the older members of our sample."

However, just before you get too excited about hitting your ninth decade, Dr Lee did counter this finding with the fact that only about one in 10 women aged 85 or older, and less than 25% of men over 80, actually had a sex life. "They're a minority, clearly, but they're an interesting minority," says Lee. "Among those who were [sexually active], it was quite interesting that they seemed happy with their sexual lives."

40% of over 65s are sexually active, says new study

That's a key finding of a survey that was just released a few days ago - and is this a good or bad figure? It sounds like more than half are not enjoying Jane Fonda-esque senior years.

The results from the University of Michigan survey found that 84% of men and 69% of women between 65 and 80 believe sex is important to a relationship at any age, with just over half of men and just under a third of women reporting that they were sexually active in some way.

Unsurprisingly, there is is some gender disparity - even in our later years - with 12% of women saying they had strong interest in sex compared to more than 50% of men saying the same. Fewer men were also "extremely or very" happy with their sex life than women.

Jane Fonda sums up sex life in the twilight years the best: "I think it's important for everyone to know that people in their 70s can be sexually attractive and sexually active. They don't have to be ... and lots of people have opted out of that, but they can be. I can be... I am."

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