Older Women: Current and Future Challenges of Professionals with an Aging Population

Why Doesn’t Anyone Ask? Myths and Taboos about Older Women and Sexuality

Author(s): Marcia Spira, Constance Sheehan and Alysha Primmer

Pp: 90-104 (15)

Doi: 10.2174/9781681083490116010009

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


The older adult population in the US age 65 and older expected to grow from 12.9% of the population in 2009 to 20% by 2030 (Administration on Aging, 2011) [1]. The increasing proportion of Baby Boomer older adults are expected to live longer and attain a higher quality of life, dependent on improved management of health issues. However, there is a paucity of research in the area of sexual health in older adulthood, especially concerning older women. The reluctance to consider the conversations around sexuality may have direct consequence on health and well-being, Negative societal stereotypes, including a prevalent view of diminishing physical attractiveness, perpetuate false assumptions about aging and sexuality. Women in particular seem vulnerable to expectations of society people that a disengagement from sexual interest and acceptance of asexuality is normative. This myth that older adults are not sexually active individuals may impact the level of medical attention that they receive for issues related to sexual health. Many healthcare professionals are reticent to broach the subject of sexuality with their older adult patients. In this paper we discuss how societal and personal attitudes toward sexual behavior and aging perpetuate myths and taboos about sexual health and overlook the significance of sexuality identity and need for physical and emotional intimacy among older women.

Keywords: Older women, Sexuality, Sexual health, Taboos.

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