Older men and women often claim to have several sexual problems. To find a solution they either seek consultation from a doctor or a close associate. But a recent study conducted by the Oregon State University seems to suggest that if men talk to their partner itself then they could possibly seek greater happiness.
The study also reveals that in their later years older couples deal with sexual health and stress related issues in a completely different manner. These couples may end up with no solution for these sexual problems.
Ryo Hirayama, a Ph.D. student in Oregon State University’s Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, and Professor Alexis Walker, who is the Jo Anne L. Petersen Chair in Gerontology and Family Studies at OSU, conducted this study. While investigating, the study included data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project.
The study authors investigated 861 people aged 57 to 85. These people were either married or had an intimate partner and they had at least one sexual problem. The issues reported by older adults included lack of interest in sex, inability to climax, physical pain during sex, maintaining an erection, or lubrication issues. The participants were then asked to show on a scale from 1 to 3 how worried they were by each issue they had mentioned to be facing with. These participants were then asked by the authors about their well-being. Then, typical scales were used to measure for their happiness and depressive symptoms. The study revealed some startling facts. It stated that less than half of the older adults, especially men, probably asked for advice for these issues from their physicians. Yet, their well-being didn’t seem to improve.
Hirayama confessed, “This was our most unexpected outcome. Older adults are advised to talk to their doctors about sexual health issues, but not all people do so and talking with a physician is not as helpful as you might expect.”
The study probably reflected that talking to a partner or friend seems to be more productive for many men. A reduction in stress and unhappiness related problems apparently appeared. Dejectedly, the same benefit was not reported in women. Hirayama confirmed that women facing a higher level of stress, reported lower happiness when they consulted their friend. Also, when these women shared their issues with their spouses, no reduction in stress or well-being was noted.
Professor Alexis Walker said, “What this tells is that women’s sexual issues are complex, and that complexity needs to be recognized. A woman with a great deal of sexual concerns could feel threatened by talking to her spouse about it, or perhaps simply confiding in a friend is not enough.”
The study seems to highlight the importance of men in middle and later life divulging information with family members and friends. Hirayama who is doing his doctoral studies on male identity issues and men’s social ties in current society reveals that the study contradicts the common belief that men do not have confidants. It possibly shows that social networks can be a critical part of especially older men.
Professor Alexis Walker who has done study in the gerontology field for decades remarked, “In the general context of sex and aging, the rule is ‘use it or lose it. The best prediction of sexual activity is to continue to be sexually active throughout your adult life, to make it a part of your life. But it is also true that older people can have sexual problems, and sometimes there are ways to work around these issues by emphasizing other activities you enjoy as a couple.”
Walker also shared that during the medicalization of aging makes some people feel as if there is a ‘fix’ for everything. She says that certain sexual issues might just be part of the aging process. It is therefore, very important for the couples to communicate with each other.
The study will be published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences.