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Int J Impot Res. 2005 Dec;17 Suppl 1:S52-6.

Sexual dysfunction in the elderly: age or disease?

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Sealy Center on Aging, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, 77551, USA.


Sexuality is an important component of emotional and physical intimacy that men and women experience through their lives. Male erectile dysfunction (ED) and female sexual dysfunction increase with age. About a third of the elderly population has at least one complaint with their sexual function. However, about 60% of the elderly population expresses their interest for maintaining sexual activity. Although aging and functional decline may affect sexual function, when sexual dysfunction is diagnosed, physicians should rule out disease or side effects of medications. Common disorders related to sexual dysfunction include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lower urinary tract symptoms and depression. Early control of cardiovascular risk factors may improve endothelial function and reduce the occurrence of ED. Treating those disorders or modifying lifestyle-related risk factors (eg obesity) may help prevent sexual dysfunction in the elderly. Sexuality is important for older adults, but interest in discussing aspects of sexual life is variable. Physicians should give their patient's opportunity to voice their concerns with sexual function and offer them alternatives for evaluation and treatment.

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