Ask the Experts
Accepting Realities of Sex & Aging
by Stephenie Overman
Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean your sex life has to become a casualty. But you do have to accept that your sex life changes as you age.
The physical changes that can inhibit your sex life are well documented. Visit the National Institute on Aging website.
For both men and women, health problems and medications may affect sexual desire and response. A frank discussion with your health care provider, although uncomfortable, can sometimes resolve such issues and lead to a more satisfying sex life.
Nora L. Howley, manager of programs for the NEA Health Information Network, notes that older people “want to continue to enjoy being sexual beings, but, as with any age group, there are a range of needs and concerns,” including health risks.
“Anyone at any age can contract a sexually transmitted infection, whether it’s HIV or herpes,” adds Howley.
She underscores the importantance for those starting new relationships to talk openly with their partners about safe sex. “Older adults who are sexually active need to let their health care providers know so they can be screened and tested appropriately,” Howley says.
Melanie Davis, Ph.D., of the Sexuality & Aging Consortium in Chester, Pennsylvania, says the key to a satisfying sex life is “adapting to the new way you are a sexual person as an older adult. There is no right way to be sexual.”
Older adults who are sexually active need to let their health care providers know so they can be screened and tested appropriately,” Howley says.