Studies have shown that many health care providers assume their older adult patients are no longer having sex, and therefore, are not perceived as being at risk for contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In addition, older adults may not perceive themselves to be at risk. These assumptions create environments that are not conducive to open and honest discussion about the challenges and concerns older adults may be having around developing and/or maintaining a healthy sex life.
As we age, we sometimes may experience bodily changes or health conditions which might impact the ability to have sex and decrease overall sexual desire. Chronic pain can occur for multiple reasons (e.g., arthritis and joint pain) and may make sex more difficult. Other issues like diabetes and heart disease can impact blood flow and the ability to climax during sex. Depression and other behavioral health issues can also be obstacles to achieving an optimal sex life.
The Older Adults Sexual Health Guide is aimed at service providers (including family caregivers). The guide can be a handy tool in preventive counseling for an issue that many are hesitant to discuss.