Sexuality and reproductive health affect people throughout their lives. In adolescence and young adulthood, being proactive about lifestyle choices that affect reproductive health can have some impact on a couple’s ability to conceive. As people age, they go through life changes that give them a chance to redefine what role their sexuality plays in their lives. Once the childbearing years have passed, why should older people be concerned about their reproductive health?
A large number of older people continue to be sexually active well into their golden years and many feel it’s a way to create or maintain intimacy with a partner. The team at the Center for Reproductive Health aims to provide guidance on reproductive health care for people from adolescence through old age.
Both men and women go through hormonal changes as they get older, and these changes can affect libido and the desire for intimacy. During and after menopause, women experience a wide variety of symptoms including hot flashes, irritability, and decreased vaginal lubrication. In some women, these changes can interfere with the amount of sexual pleasure they experience.
As men age, they experience reduced testosterone levels which may cause them to need more stimulation to attain an erection. Erectile dysfunction is common in older men and may be related to health problems, medications, or emotional health problems such as depression or anxiety, but there are treatment options that may help.
Protection From STIs
People frequently assume that older people no longer have sexual desires, and the topic of sexuality in old age is often considered taboo. It’s important for older people who are sexually active to understand that just because the chance of pregnancy has passed, the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) still exists. Another thing to consider is that immune system function can decline with age and make people more susceptible to contracting infections including STIs.
Using condoms is just as important for older people as it is for young people. They should be used correctly and consistently as a tool for preventing the spread of chlamydia, syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis C, and other STIs. Older people should be familiar with symptoms that may indicate they have contracted an STI. Examples of these symptoms include discharge, lower abdominal pain, or painful urination.
Other Age-Related Changes
The body has several complex systems that work together for overall health. Poor lifestyle choices can affect the body in many different ways from energy level to libido. Many older people have health problems that affect their overall quality of life, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. When illness or chronic pain develops, it can affect sexual desire and the ability to have sex. Some people find that age-related changes make them feel less desirable.
Older adults need to have a safe place to discuss their sexuality and reproductive health. If you’re looking for a safe and supportive environment to discuss health concerns related to sex in your later years, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Center for Reproductive Health.