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Interest in Sex and Conversations About Sexual Health with Health Care Providers Among Older U.S. Adults.

Agochukwu-Mmonu N, Malani PN, Wittmann D, Kirch M, Kullgren J, Singer D, Solway E. Interest in Sex and Conversations About Sexual Health with Health Care Providers Among Older U.S. Adults. Clinical Gerontologist. 2021 May 1; 44(3):299-306.

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: Sexual health is an important component of overall health and well-being for older adults. Despite this, little is known about the importance of sex to quality of life, as part of romantic relationships for older adults, and potential drivers of interactions between healthcare providers and older adults about sexual health. In this study using a nationally representative population, we describe perceptions and experiences of sex among older adults.: A nationally representative, cross-sectional sample of community-dwelling U.S. adults aged 65-80 was surveyed about their sexual health and interaction with their health care providers about sexual health.: The survey completion rate was 75% (N  =  1,002). Overall, 50.9% of men and 30.8% of women reported being sexually active. In all, 17.3% of adults aged 65-80 reported speaking to their health care provider about sexual health in the past two years and of those, 60.5% of patients initiated the conversation. Multivariable logistic regression demonstrated that sexual activity (yes/no), interest in sex, and satisfaction with sex life are major drivers of sexual health conversations between patients and healthcare providers.: Many adults aged 65-80 are interested in and engage in sexual activity. While the majority of older adults reported a willingness to discuss their sexual health with their health care providers, few had done so, and most conversations were initiated by patients. Iterest in sex and satisfaction with sex life may be targets for intervention and offer a segue for providers as they begin the conversation to engage with older adults about their sexual health.: Providers may have conversations with older adults about sexual health and may need sexual health training to have effective discussions; age nor chronic conditions should preclude this essential conversation. Clinical gerontologists may be helpful in this training and in encouraging patients to bring up sexual health concerns during their medical appointments.

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