Council on Aging Answers 2016 - 35

COUNCIL ON AGING - ORANGE COUNTY

of sex. Men may fear that ED will become a more
common problem as they age. Most men have a problem with ED once in a while. But, if you worry too
much about that happening, you can cause enough
stress to trigger ED.
Older couples face the same daily stresses that affect people of any age. They may also have the added
concerns of age, illness, retirement, and other lifestyle
changes, all of which may lead to sexual difficulties. Try not to blame yourself or your partner. You
may find it helpful to talk to a therapist. Many of the
things that cause these problems can be helped.
Am I Too Old to Worry About Safe Sex?
Age does not protect you from sexually transmitted
diseases. Older people who are sexually active may be
at risk for diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydial infection, genital herpes, hepatitis B, genital
warts, and trichomoniasis.
Almost anyone who is sexually active is also at
risk of being infected with HIV, the virus that causes
AIDS. The number of older people with HIV/AIDS is
growing. Talk with your doctor about ways to protect
yourself from all sexually transmitted diseases. Go for
regular checkups and testing. Talk with your partner.
You are never too old to be at risk.

What Can I Do?
There are things you can do on your own for an
active sexual life. Make your partner a high priority.
Take time to enjoy each other and to understand the
changes you both are facing. Some older people may
have trouble finding a romantic or sexual partner.
To meet new people, try activities that other seniors
enjoy. Some ideas include volunteer jobs, adult educaCan Emotions Play a Part?
tion classes at community colleges, mall walking or
Sexuality is often a delicate balance of emotional
and physical issues. How you feel may affect what you day trips sponsored by your city or county recreation
department.
are able to do. Many older couples find greater satisPhysical challenges can change your sex life as you
faction in their sex life than they did when they were
younger. They have fewer distractions, more time and get older. But, you and your partner may discover you
privacy, no worries about getting pregnant and greater have a new closeness. Talk to your partner about your
needs. You may find that affection-hugging, kissing,
intimacy with a lifelong partner.
touching, and spending time together-can make a
Some older people are concerned about sex as they
good beginning.
age. A woman who is unhappy about how her looks
are changing as she ages may think her partner will
Excerpted from the National Institute on Aging, Ageno longer find her attractive. This focus on youthful
Page, Sexuality in Later Life, 2013
physical beauty may get in the way of her enjoyment

Council On Aging-Orange County | 714-479-0107 | www.coaoc.org	 Answers Guide 2016

35

HEALTHCARE

mentia care may be helpful.
Diabetes - This is one of the illnesses that can cause
erectile dysfunction (ED) in some men. In most cases,
medical treatment can help. Less is known about how
diabetes affects sexuality in older women. Women
with diabetes are more likely to have yeast infections
that make sex uncomfortable or undesirable. Yeast infections can be treated.
Heart disease - Narrowing and hardening of the
arteries can change blood vessels so that blood does
not flow freely. People, who have had a heart attack,
or their partners, may be afraid that having sex will
cause another attack. Always follow your doctors advice.
Incontinence - Loss of bladder control or leaking
of urine is more common as we grow older, especially
in women. Extra pressure on the belly during intercourse can cause loss of urine, which may result in
some people avoiding sex.
Stroke -The ability to have sex is sometimes affected by a stroke. A change in positions or medical
devices may help people with ongoing weakness or
paralysis to have sex. Some people with paralysis from
the waist down are still able to experience pleasure.
Depression - Lack of interest in activities you used
to enjoy, such as intimacy and sexual activity, can be a
symptom of depression. It's sometimes hard to know
if you're depressed. Talk with your doctor.
Medications - Some drugs can cause sexual problems. These include some blood pressure medicines,
antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquilizers, appetite suppressants, drugs for mental problems, and
ulcer drugs. Check with your doctor to see if there is a
different drug without this side effect.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Council on Aging Answers 2016

Contents
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