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Friendship and confiding in spouse eases stress over sexual issues in older men
Date:5/5/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. A new study suggests that it may not help older men and women with sexual problems to talk to a doctor, but men who talk to their partner report greater happiness and those who talked with friends felt less depressed.

The research, to be published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, shows that the way men and women deal with sexual health and stress in their later years varies greatly and that there is not one solution that can help ease unhappiness caused by sexual problems.

The research was conducted by 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. The study was conducted with data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project.

The Oregon State researchers looked at 861 people ages 57 to 85 who were married or had an intimate partner, and who reported having at least one sexual problem. The sexual problems reported by older adults included lack of interest in sex, inability to climax, physical pain during sex, maintaining an erection, or lubrication issues. Respondents were asked to indicate on a scale from 1 to 3 how bothered they were by each problem they listed. They also were asked about their well-being, which the researchers measured by using typical scales for happiness and for depressive symptoms.

The study yielded several surprising findings. First, fewer than half of older adults with sexual problems discussed these problems with their doctors, although men were more likely to do so than women. In addition, whether older adults discussed these issues with their physicians did not make a difference in their well-being.

"This was our most unexpected outcome," Hirayama said. "Older adults are advised to talk to their doctors about sexual health issues, but not all people do so and talking w
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Contact: Alexis Walker
walkera@oregonstate.edu
541-737-1083
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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