Women's Sexual Health Clinic

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Sexuality and Aging

The need to share relationships with others doesn’t decrease with age. For some, this includes the desire to share an active and satisfying sex life.

Sexuality and Aging: What to Expect

As women age, they may need to adapt their sexual activity to accommodate any health and physical changes brought on by the aging process. Both men and women experience changes that sometimes affects their ability to have and enjoy sex.

Hormones affect women throughout their lives. Many women, especially during and after menopause, experience hormone issues that lead to vaginal dryness which can cause sex to be painful. A water-based lubricant or an increased amount of foreplay may be required to enable sex to be comfortable. As hormones decrease, libido may do so as well; however, women undergoing hormone therapy may experience an increased desire for sex.

Since impotence becomes more common as men get older, women have to be prepared to help a partner who is dealing with erectile dysfunction. It’s important to discuss these issues with your partner, openly and honestly.

Changes that Affect Sexuality as Women Age

Older women’s bodies undergo changes that affect their sexuality including:

  • Decreased libido
  • Reduced vaginal lubrication
  • Loss of vaginal elasticity, thinning of the vaginal lining and loss of muscle tone
  • Lower hormone levels, both estrogen and testosterone
  • Decreased blood flow to the genitals
  • Diminished genital sensitivity
  • Delayed, diminished or absent orgasms

Their male partners experience changes, as well, that affect their relationships with each other.

Body changes and declining health can affect sexuality. In fact, many things associated with aging can affect sexuality. It may take time and experimentation to find ways to have a satisfying sex life as you and your partner age. The following conditions or issues related to aging often affect sexuality and may require adaptations, modifications or changes:

  • Joint pain
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Incontinence
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Medications
  • Dementia

Surgery, especially when the breasts or genital area is involved, can lead to issues with self-image and self-esteem. Hysterectomies and removal of a breast due to breast cancer can cause a woman to be concerned about her future sex life, cause her to feel less attractive/desirable or cause her to lose interest in sex entirely.

Any concerns you have should be discussed with your healthcare professional. Joining support groups and talking to other women who have experienced the same issues and problems may be beneficial.

When to Speak to a Doctor

Any concerns related to issues associated with sexuality and aging should be discussed with your healthcare professional. The Henry Ford Health System Women’s Sexual Health Clinic is ready to help you with the issues that cause you concern.

For a confidential appointment at the Henry Ford Health System Women’s Sexual Health Clinic located near Detroit, we offer two convenient ways to contact us:

Schedule Appointment Online

If this is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.

For your safety, please select a MyChart video visit on demand or call our MyCare Advice Line at 844-262-1949 before scheduling if:

  • You currently have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In the past 21 days, you have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • In the past 14 days, you have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You are experiencing a new loss of taste and/or sense of smell
  • If you have experienced two or more of the following symptoms in the last 3 days:
    • fever
    • chills
    • drenching sweats
    • new cough
    • shortness of breath
    • body aches
    • headache
    • sore throat
    • runny nose or nasal congestion
    • nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

Henry Ford Health System is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email CommunicationAccess@hfhs.org.

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