Sexuality can be an awkward topic of discussion for any age group, especially for older adults. As bodies age, different sex-related issues arise. It is important to recognize that these issues are normal and talk to a physician if you have any concerns. Sexual health needs to be discussed more in older adults, who demographically boast some of the highest and fasting growing rates of STDs in the country.

This week, learn how to protect yourself and what to discuss with your physician when it comes to sexual health.

At What Age Should I Start Concerning Myself With Safe Sex?

Turns out that safe sex is a life-long endeavor! While women are not able to carry children past a certain age, this should not discourage condom use. Condoms and dental dams serve as more than just birth control. They are barriers that halt STDs and STIs in their tracks.

Condoms come in two varieties, male and female, and are a barrier used during penetrative sex. Dental dams are essentially latex sheets that can be used as protection for penetrative sex, but are more often used for non-penetrative sex. Talk with you doctor about what is the best option for you.

What Are Some Sexual Health Issues Older Adults Can Encounter?

  1. Arthritis or other forms of chronic pain

Unfortunately, chronic pain impacts all aspects of life. With arthritis, regular light exercise may help relieve some of your pain. Warm baths or showers can relax your muscles, which may also provide some relief. Talk to your physician about what joints to avoid putting pressure on and how pain medication may be able to help. 

  1. Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that impacts the sexuality of both men and women. In some men, diabetes leads to ED. For women, it means that they tend to get yeast infections easily. The better handle you have on your diabetes, the easier it is to prevent any secondary issues. With the price of insulin rising, consult your physician to learn your options for controlling diabetes, as well as any secondary effects.

  1. Heart Disease

Heart disease, because it limits the blood flow through the body, may impact both men and women’s sex lives, although heart disease is much more common in men. Cardiac issues can have a psychological impact on sexuality as well. If someone’s partner has a heart condition or history of heart attacks, sexual activity may be a concern for them. As with diabetes, your physician should have a treatment plan laid out for you already, but it is always smart to consult with them about any questions that you may have.

  1. Mental Health Issues

Depression and anxiety, which are increasingly common in older adults, also negatively impact sexuality. People with mental health conditions often find that they stop finding enjoyment in all facets of their life, including intimacy. The best way to try and move past these issues is to open up and communicate with your significant other. 

  1. Substances

Alcohol and certain prescription medications have the ability to decrease your libido. If the decline in intimacy is a concern, talk to your physician about alternatives to what you are currently taking. Reducing alcohol intake, or avoiding drinks with high alcohol percentages may also help.