Sexual Health


Good sex is about more than just having an orgasm. It contributes to relaxation, gives you pleasure, improves self-esteem. A healthy sex life can increase closeness and intimacy with your partner. Sexual activity contributes to a positive attitude toward life, increasing one’s happiness and optimism. These positive effects may in addition reduce coronary heart disease risk and the risk of mortality.

Sexual function changes for everyone as we age. These changes can add stress to your life and make sex a challenge. These changes reflect decreases in sex hormones, which can make it more difficult become aroused and achieve orgasm. Men may find it more difficult to get an erection, while women may have vaginal dryness. Age-related illnesses can also reduce sexual activity. For examples, arthritis can make it difficult to get into sexual positions and heart disease can make it tiring to have sex. For men, condom use can make it more difficult to maintain an erection.

Sexual activity has many forms that include insertive sex, kissing, touch, intimacy and even just holding a person’s hand. The desire to have sex is continuous throughout life. The frequency of sexual activity, if it occurs at all, is a function of partner availability. Couples who are married or partnered have the highest rates of sexual activity.


What to do with your doctor

Unfortunately, your doctors may not ask you about your sex life. They may assume older adults do not have sex at all or are reluctant to discuss sex and safer sex with someone of their parents’ age. You should not wait for your doctor to ask about your sex life. You should feel that you can talk frankly about your sex life and any issues you have. With this proactive approach, you can get the information and care needed to stay healthy and maintain a satisfying sex life. Addressing any issues early makes them more manageable before they become a serious problem.

Ask if your sexual problems may be a side effect from a drug or combination of drugs.
Some medications can reduce sexual desire or response. You should ask your healthcare provider if any of your meds can cause sexual problems, and, if so, whether you can switch to ones with fewer side effects. You should also ask your doctor to evaluate whether you might have a hormone deficiency. Your doctor may prescribe meds that might help with sexual desire or erections.


PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a medication for HIV-negative people that reduces the risk of getting HIV. It is close to 99% effective in preventing HIV if it is taken every day. But it does not prevent other STIs (sexually transmitted infections), and should be used with condoms, not instead of them. Ask your doctor if PrEP might be right for you or your partner.


What you can do yourself


When your other health conditions are not controlled, you may not feel well enough to enjoy sex. You should take the right number of pills at the right time of day as prescribed. This is especially important for PrEP, HIV meds, and all medications that must be taken every day to be effective. If this is difficult, you should use a pillbox or alarm to remind you.


Condoms protect you from STIs and prevent the spread of HIV. If you are in a relationship with an HIV-negative partner, it is important that you are adherent to your HIV meds to prevent transmission. In addition, HIV-negative people should use PrEP with condoms since the drug does not protect against STIs.