A Case for Sexual Health Policy that Includes Midlife and Older Adult Sexuality and Sexual Health

By Linda Kirkman, Christopher Fox and Virginia Dickson-Swift.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 11, 2016 $US5.00

Healthy aging includes a healthy sexuality. In this article we argue for sexual health policy to support aging sexuality. Government sexual health policies focus on reproduction, not sexuality, and exclude older adults. There is a stereotype that older people are not sexual. This is not supported by scholarly and anecdotal evidence or a growing popular media on older adult sexuality. This article explores Australian policy and includes reference to the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA). We examine research on older adult sexual behaviours and beliefs. Despite the growing body of evidence of older adult sexuality—including surveillance reporting of increasing sexually transmissible infections (STIs)—there is limited political support to manage the health implications of a sexually active older population. Given societal expectations of positive aging, we advocate that the sexuality and relationships of older adults be included in mainstream government sexual health policy. This would have practical and psychosocial benefits. A policy would enable preventative health measures. Clinical conversations would be easier and more likely to occur, leading to suitable interventions and health promotion. This in turn will reduce social and financial costs of burden-of-disease. Improved sexual health and better understanding of relationship diversity will increase the wellbeing of older people.

Keywords: Sexual Health Policy, Aging, Health Promotion, Aging Sexuality, Clinical Practice

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.17-27. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 11, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 614.796KB)).

Dr Linda Kirkman

Ph.D Candidate, La Trobe Rural Health School, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Christopher Fox

Senior Lecturer, Western Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Virginia Dickson-Swift

Senior Lecturer, Public Health, College of Science, Health & Engineering, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia