Conservative Christianity, Partnership, Hormones, and Sex in Late Life

Aniruddha Das, McGill University
Stephanie Nairn, McGill University

Using nationally representative data from the 2005-2006 U.S. National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), this study queried relationship, sexual, and sex hormone patterns among married evangelical women and men aged 57 to 85, relative to those in other religions. Results suggested that despite potentially more unequal gender roles, evangelical older women may have better marital quality—perhaps due to the recent transformation of their male counterparts into authoritative-yet-supportive “soft patriarchs”. Correspondingly, these women—especially those with greater subjective religiosity, or more support from a spouse—reported consistently better sexual outcomes than their counterparts in other religions. In addition, they also had lower estradiol—whether due to psychobiological effects of their better relationships, or self-selection of those with differential hormone levels into particular partnership patterns.

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Presented in Session 125: Sex, Fertility, and Well-Being