Doctors don’t routinely ask older patients about their sexual health out of fear of offending them.
“Sixty percent of older adults report initiating these conversations… this leads us to believe that providers may not be addressing these issues in visits,” said Solway.
The majority of those who spoke with their doctor — 88 percent — reported that they felt comfortable discussing their sexual health, regardless of who initiated the conversation, the poll said.
“My impression is that many seniors are eager to have sex, and to talk about it,” says New York City sex therapist Dr. Stephen Snyder, author of “Love Worth Making“, who was not part of the study.
But does wanting to talk about sex translate to actual conversations? Solway and her colleagues who led the study don’t seem to think so.
“We recognize that most people report that they would talk to a health care provider if they were to have a problem with their sexual health but only 17 percent reported that they’ve actually had these conversations in the past two years,” said Solway.
And only 36 percent of poll participants reported that they would talk to their spouse.
Whether or not older adults are sexually active, nearly two-thirds say they’re interested in sex. More than half say sex is important to their quality of life.
“I’m thrilled that sex surveys are starting to include seniors. For many years, seniors were routinely eliminated from such studies,” said Snyder. “Sex in older adults is an important topic, even if it’s not widely talked about.”