Sexual Behavior of Older Women: Results of a Random-Digit-Di : Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Correspondence to Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan e-mail: lustinarasimhanm who. Bulletin of the World Health Organization ; Populations around the world are rapidly ageing. Many challenges and opportunities arise from this demographic transition. The subject of sexuality in older people remains largely taboo in many cultures, yet older women the world over are known to have sexual desire and to engage in sexual activity Fig. Population ageing has triggered a re-examination of many ageist stereotypes, notably the assumption that older people invariably abandon more active social roles.
Sexual desire is a major component of sexuality at any age, and inhibited desire is one of the main sexual dysfunctions reported by older women. Aging is a physiological, psychological, and social transition that typically affects sexuality. Continual sexual activity carries numerous health benefits throughout the life span: because sexual intimacy impacts sexual desire necessary for ongoing healthy sexual interactions in human relationships, problems in any area of the sexual experience should be addressed as part of a holistic health assessment as discussed by Yee and Sundquist [ 1 ]. Sexuality and older women are issues, however, that are typically dichotomized rather than considered a naturally occurring combination to be explored and nurtured in their intersection. A seemingly perpetual belief is that sexual interest wanes considerably or completely with age [ 2 ].
Although sexuality remains an important component of emotional and physical intimacy that most men and women desire to experience throughout their lives, sexual dysfunction in women is a problem that is not well studied. Increasing recognition of this common problem and future research in this field may alter perceptions about sexuality, dismiss taboo and incorrect thoughts on sexual dysfunction, and spark better management for patients, allowing them to live more enjoyable lives. This need is especially acute for physicians who will increasingly encounter patients trying to maintain a high quality of life as their bodies and life circumstances change, and as advances in nutrition, health maintenance, and technology allow many to extend the time midlife activities are maintained.