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As people age, these are three of the most common issues affecting sexual health.

When it comes to your sexual health, the things that become important to you may change as you age. You may no longer be at a stage of your life where you’re thinking about pregnancy. You may no longer be talking to your doctor about vaccines for HPV. But there are some sexual health issues you don’t outgrow, no matter your age. There are also some new concerns that may arise as you get older that you did not have to deal with earlier in life.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, maintaining your sexual health is an important part of taking care of your overall health and well-being. Often, the biggest obstacle to addressing any sexual health issue is talking about it. But you should feel comfortable discussing these issues with your doctor and your partner. After all, sex is a normal and natural part of the human experience.

Here are 3 sexual health issues you don’t outgrow or that may be new to you as you age:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

You may think that sexually transmitted diseases are something only younger people need to be concerned about, but older people who are sexually active are also at risk. The same STDs that affect younger people can affect people of any age. These include syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, hepatitis B, genital warts, trichomoniasis and HIV.

If you are having unprotected sex (which many older people do because they are no longer worried about getting pregnant), your risk of acquiring or transmitting an STD is as high as when you were young.

Sex Drive

Your sex drive typically diminishes gradually as you age. This may occur in conjunction with physical and hormonal changes in your body, such as menopause. Women may have vaginal dryness, which makes sex more uncomfortable. They may also experience hot flashes and other symptoms that make sexual activity less enjoyable.

Men may experience erectile dysfunction due to health issues, such as hardened arteries, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, obesity or smoking. This may make them less eager to engage in sexual relations or may lower the enjoyment level of their sex life.

Sex drive may also be affected by health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, arthritis, dementia, incontinence or obesity. Medications may affect libido, as can chronic pain. How comfortable you feel about your aging body or the state of your health may also come into play.

Talk to your doctor about any changes that affect your enjoyment in the bedroom. Also, don’t be afraid to discuss concerns with your sexual partner. Good communication is key to a healthy relationship and can help keep your sex life satisfying.

Cancer Screenings

Breast cancer is one of the biggest concerns of women as they age. Be sure to get mammograms according to recommended guidelines. Women should also have annual gynecological check-ups. At this appointment, manual breast exams will be done by the doctor and screenings for cervical cancer will be performed as necessary.

Men are encouraged to talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of getting prostate cancer screenings, including what type of tests should be done, when they should be started and how often they should be repeated.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 21, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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