245752 Dysfunctional or differently functional? Distressing sexual experiences among older adults in the United States

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 10:50 AM

Adena Galinsky , Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health describes sexual dysfunction as an important public health problem. Although a few sexual experiences identified as dysfunctions have been the focus of substantial pharmaceutical research, there is limited evidence about the extent to which individuals regard these experiences as problematic. Using data from the 2005-2006 National Social Life Health and Aging Project, this study examines the prevalence and correlates of being bothered by one's own or one's partner's sexual difficulties, among adults 57-85 who had sex in the past year (N=1,352). For most of the seven specified outcomes, less than 25% of respondents indicated that the experience bothered them “a lot”, and more than 33% indicated that it did not bother them “at all.” The problem most likely to bother men (55.8% somewhat, 34.4% a lot) was erectile difficulty and the problem most likely to bother women (66.6% somewhat, 30% a lot) was physical pain during intercourse, Nearly a fifth of women reported pain during sex, 82.3% of whom reported vaginal pain, while only 2.3% of men reported any pain during sex. Vaginal pain during sex very strongly predicted being bothered by lubrication difficulties. Among those whose partner lacked interest in sex, men had four times the odds of being bothered by it, compared to women ( OR 4.0, 95% CI:2.3, 6.0). A public health approach focused on communication skills and behavior change may be more effective than a medical approach in addressing the sexual problems of older couples.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the prevalence among older adults in the United States of distress about sexual experiences commonly referred to as sexual dysfunctions Describe gender differences in the likelihood and correlates of being bothered by sexual experiences commonly referred to as sexual dysfunctions

Keywords: Sexuality, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a PhD from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health from the department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, and I have published my research on the prevalence and predictors of other aspects of sexual health in peer-reviewed journals.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.