A new Journal of the American Geriatrics Society article reviews common issues in caring for the sexual health of older women, noting that physicians often lack sufficient training.
Only a minority of older women report discussing sexual issues with a physician, and when discussions do occur, they are usually initiated by the patient. Physicians should ask regularly and proactively about sexual activity and function.
Important interventions include offering practical advice to common chronic medical conditions and sexual problems that confront older women; treating vulvovaginal atrophy; and providing screening, prevention strategies, and treatment for sexually transmitted infections when appropriate.
"Sexuality in older women has been systematically ignored. We know older women are sexually active and interested in sex--that's the most important reason for physicians and other healthcare providers to feel comfortable about addressing sexual issues in older women," said co-author Dr. Janet Pregler, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. "From a public health perspective, sexually transmitted infections are increasing in older women. That's important, too."