Sexual health can be a taboo subject for any age, but it becomes even harder to talk about for some older adults. No matter what age you are, addressing your concerns about sexual health helps you stay safe and supported. 

We’ll break the stigma here in this post and openly discuss age-related challenges with sexual health, what Medicare covers for related services, and how you can maintain your sexual health in older age.

Key takeaways:

  • Senior men and women face challenges when maintaining their sexual health—from decreased libido due to changing hormone levels to preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). 

  • Medicare covers services like STI screenings, doctor visits for consultations about hormones or conditions, and certain procedures and medications so you can maintain a healthy sex life.

Benefits of a healthy sex life for older adults

There are numerous benefits to a healthy sex life for seniors. In fact, your sexual health can be more fulfilling in older age since you may be more aware of your preferences. Engaging in sexual activity can improve your mood, cardiovascular health, and social connections. Plus, it fosters emotional closeness and intimacy, which is important for older adults.

Because health conditions and changing hormones can affect your sexual wellbeing, it can be difficult for older adults to have a healthy outlook about sex. We’ll share some strategies on overcoming challenges that seniors often face with sex, so you can feel confident about intimacy. 

Challenges for older people in maintaining sexual health

Maintaining your sexual health remains an important part of your life as you age. However, both senior men and women can experience challenges related to sexual health. 

Sexual health challenges for men and women:

  • Decreased libido due to hormone changes

  • Impact of chronic illnesses, side effects of medications, and health conditions on sexual health

  • Practicing safe sex to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

  • Communication barriers between sexual partners because of the way society looks at sexuality in older adults

  • Limited discussion and awareness about sexual health challenges

  • Body image issues due to changes experienced as a result of aging

Sexual health challenges for women:

  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse 

  • Hormonal changes due to menopause that affects sex drive

  • Dyspareunia, or painful intercourse

  • Weakening pelvic muscles 

Sexual health challenges for men:

  • Erectile dysfunction due to age, chronic conditions, or side-effects from medications

  • Ejaculatory issues, including premature, delayed, or no ejaculation

Strategies to improve sexual health for seniors 

While there is a natural disinterest in sex over time because of hormones and conditions that come with aging, there are many strategies you can use to improve your sexual health. 

1. Practice open communication

Being open with your partner about any conditions you have can help you both come up with solutions. For example, if you have osteoporosis or mobility challenges, you can communicate these issues with your partner and find what works best for both of you.

2. Stay physically active and adopt a healthy lifestyle

Physical activity and eating well helps you maintain your overall health, which can contribute to a healthier sex life. Plus, staying active and adopting a nutritious diet can prevent chronic conditions that make sexual activity more difficult. 

3. Schedule regular medical checkups

Schedule regular checkups with your healthcare providers to talk about any underlying health issues that prevent you from sexual activity. If you’re feeling pain or experiencing problems with libido, your doctor can recommend solutions like hormone therapy or lubrication. Your doctor can also diagnose you with erectile dysfunction or other conditions and advise on next steps for you.

Talk to your doctor about side-effects from medications. If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness due to a prescription, your doctor may recommend a different medicine or lower your dosage depending on the situation.

Additionally, going to the doctor regularly can help you detect signs of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) early to prevent things from getting worse.

4. Practice safe sex and get tested

It’s easy to think that you don't have to use condoms or other forms of protection as an older adult because you can no longer get pregnant. On the contrary, this misconception leads to higher rates of infection in people who are 65 and older. What’s more, STIs, like syphilis, may not show any symptoms at all. It’s important to get tested regularly to practice safe sex and maintain your sexual health.

Medicare coverage for sexual health services

While Medicare doesn’t explicitly cover services specifically for sexual health, there are a number of ways you can receive coverage for services to improve sexual health. Here are a few relevant services Medicare covers:

  • Medicare covers preventive screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and counseling on STIs.

  • Medicare helps pay for doctor visits for a sexual health consultation.

  • Depending on your prescription drug coverage, Medicare may cover hormone therapy for menopause. If you need to switch to a plan that covers hormone therapy, we can help you compare plans during eligible enrollment periods!

  • Medicare helps cover treatments for cardiovascular issues, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other conditions that can make sexual activity more difficult.

  • While Medicare doesn’t typically cover oral medications or injections, it can cover penile implant surgery if the surgery is considered medically necessary to treat erectile dysfunction.

  • Some Medicare Advantage plans include free fitness memberships that can positively impact your overall wellbeing and contribute to a healthy sex life.

There are a range of services that Medicare can help cover to promote sexual health. If you have other questions about how you can use your plan, talk to a licensed Medicare Advisor today. Call us at 855-900-2427 or book a time to talk.

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