Sex and Aging: What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You

BY Leah Millheiser, MD · June 17, 2016

No question, our bodies and brains go through changes as we age. Health issues, medications and hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause can change a woman’s body—and, along with that, her attitude about sex. But while it’s normal for us to go through several physical changes in a lifetime, it should in no way signal an end to sexual vitality. Just as we now stay on top of skin care and physical fitness as we move through life stages, so too should we proactively address any changes to our sexual health. Here are a few reasons why we need to start talking more about sex.

Aging and Sex - The DermStore Blog


1. Sex has many health benefits.

Men and women now live long past the reproductive years, and we’re learning that the benefits of maintaining sexual activity are many. Many of us consider sex a major factor in our general sense of well-being, but its impact on our overall health doesn’t stop there. A recent article cites studies linking regular sexual activity with improved fitness and cardiovascular health as well as lower rates of depression.

2. Sexual struggle is real.

As we laud the positive benefits of sexual activity, it is important to acknowledge that 44% of women in the U.S. experience a concern with their sexual function, with desire and arousal being the most frequently impacted.[1] Simple day-to-day stressors, such as child care responsibilities, finances, relationship troubles and body image concerns, can also negatively impact sexual function.

3. Low sex drive affects relationships.

According to one study, women with low sex drives reported that they felt less connected to their partner, communicated less with their partner, worried that their partner would either cheat on or leave them and argued more often in the relationship.[2] It’s important to talk about problems with sexual function—not doing so can have serious consequences on a relationship.

Why Are We Not Talking?

Knowing how important healthy sexual function is to a woman’s overall wellness, why is it still a challenge for women and their clinicians to have conversations about sex?

It comes down to knowledge. Many clinicians are not educated on how to address women’s sexual concerns during their medical school or residency years. Combine that with women feeling that their clinicians may dismiss their concerns or feel uncomfortable with the topic of sex and you have the perfect recipe for crossed lines of communication and inevitable frustration. It is the clinician’s responsibility to ask about all health concerns, including ones of a sexual nature. However, when they don’t, it is completely appropriate for a woman to bring it up herself. If the clinician doesn’t address these types of issues, then a request should be made for a referral to someone in the community who does.

Sexual Interventions Are Now Available

Reputable resources and interventions available for addressing sexual concerns have grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Under a doctor’s supervision, hormone therapy can be prescribed to those with acute menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood fluctuations. For those experiencing libido concerns, Fiera® Arouser for Her has been shown to get women in the mood and ready for sexual activity. Talk to your doctor about any recent physical changes that may be bothering you so that you can design a course of action together.

Troubleshoot medical issues or difficulties by talking to other women and acquiring the tips and tools you need to ensure sexual fitness and lasting intimacy with your partnerFiera Arouse Her

[1] Shifren J et al. Sexual problems and distress in United States Women: Prevalence and correlates. Ob Gynecol 2008;112(5):970-8.
[2] Kingsberg SA. Attitudinal survey of women living with low sexual desire. J Wom Health 2014; 23(10):817-23.

Leah Millheiser, MD

Dr. Leah Millheiser is the chief scientific officer of Nuelle. Dr. Millheiser is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University Medical Center. I... Read More >