Sexuality in Later Life
What Can I Do? continued...
Some older people, especially women, may have trouble finding a partner with
whom they can share any type of intimacy. Women live longer than men, so there
are more of them. In 2000 women over age 65 outnumbered older men by 100 to 70.
Doing activities that other seniors enjoy or going places where older people
gather are ways to meet new people. Some ideas include mall walking, senior
centers, adult education classes at a community college, or day trips sponsored
by your city or county recreation department.
If you do seem to have a problem that affects your sex life, talk to your
doctor. He or she can suggest a treatment depending on the type of problem and
its cause. For example, the most common sexual difficulty of older women is
dyspareunia, painful intercourse caused by poor vaginal lubrication. Your
doctor or a pharmacist can suggest over-the-counter, water-based vaginal
lubricants to use. Or, your doctor might suggest estrogen supplements or an
estrogen vaginal insert.
If impotence is the problem, it can often be managed and perhaps even
reversed. There is a pill that can help. It is called sildenafil and should not
be taken by men taking medicines containing nitrates, such as nitroglycerin.
This pill does have possible side effects. Other available treatments include
vacuum devices, self-injection of a drug (either papaverine or prostaglandin
E1), or penile implants.
There is a lot you can do to continue an active sex life. Follow a healthy
lifestyle-exercise, eat good food, drink plenty of fluids like water or juices,
don't smoke, and avoid alcohol. Try to reduce the stress in your life. See your
doctor regularly. And keep a positive outlook on life.
For More Information
The following organizations and government agencies have information that
may be of help.
American Cancer Society
1599 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
American Foundation for Urologic Disease, Inc.
1000 Corporate Boulevard
Linthicum, MD 21090
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
3 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3580
For more information on health and aging, contact:
National Institute on Aging Information Center
P.O. Box 8057
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
800-222-4225 (TTY toll-free)
To order publications (in English or Spanish) or sign up for regular email
alerts, visit: www.niapublications.org.
The National Institute on Aging website is www.nia.nih.gov .
Visit NIHSeniorHealth.gov (www.nihseniorhealth.gov ),
a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National
Library of Medicine. This simple-to-use website features popular health topics
for older adults. It has large type and a 'talking' function that reads the
text out loud.