Sexuality and the Elderly: A Research Guide

By Bonnie L. Walker | Go to book overview

13
Sexual Dysfunction Among the Elderly

Sexual dysfunction among the elderly has a variety of causes, both physiological and psychological. Included as dysfunction are problems with sexual performance, lack of desire, and diminished arousal capacity. Researchers and writers usually include inability to engage in heterosexual activities for any reason in their studies and discussions.

Failure to adjust to normal aging changes and illness are two common causes of sexual dysfunction. Physical causes of sexual dysfunction are often compounded by psychological factors including acceptance by the elderly of negative societal attitudes. Other factors leading to sexual problems are the lack of availability of a sexual partner, mental health problems, chronic pain, substance abuse, side effects of medications, dementia, and a lack of privacy.

Among males, changes in libido and erectile function have been studied extensively. Impotence is the major sexual dysfunction among elderly males although other problems are premature ejaculation, impaired sexual interest, retarded ejaculation, and pain on intercourse.

Among females, the emphasis is on changes occurring after menopause. Decreased estrogen is the most commonly cited cause of problems. The most common sexual dysfunction for females according to some writers is decreased sexual interest. Other problems which interfere with sexual behavior and sexual satisfaction are increases in urinary tract infections, vaginal atrophy, vaginal dryness, reduced

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