Many LGBT Elders are sexually active. Sexual health issues are prevalent amongst LGBT elders, but are rarely discussed with physicians. This is unfortunate because untreated sexual problems can have harmful health effects. Many LGBT elders take medications that can affect their sex lives, but communication with physicians remain poor, leaving these issues undiagnosed or untreated. Sexual health issues that are left untreated, can contribute to depression and social isolation; including, avoiding intimacy and sex.
There is a misconception we lose interest in sex as we age. Although there is the possibility of some sexual dysfunction due to aging, sexual dysfunction is more associated with poor health than age. Here are three things you can do as an older LGBT person to improve your sexual health:
- Talk openly about your physical and sexual health issues with your partner (if it applies).
- It is important to have open, honest, discussions with your partner about your sexual health issues. Doing so can decrease you and your partner’s feelings of shame, inadequacy, and isolation regarding intimacy. These discussions can also open the door to explore new areas of intimacy and sexual play (smile).
2. See your physician regularly and openly discuss your sexual health issues.
- Many LGBT elders are reluctant to discuss sexual issues with physicians due to past experiences of discrimination, feeling invisible, or embarrassment. We are living in an evolving society and while there are still challenges, LGBT issues are becoming more and more transparent. However, you must take an active role in your own health care. Choosing to ignore any health issue can lead to greater complications. Taking an active role in your health care can possibly lead to a better, healthier, stress free, sex life (smile)!
3. Talk to a therapist about your issues.
- The elder LGBT population can be very private. Historically, you have seen and experienced a great deal of oppression, discrimination, isolation, and inequality. There may be past situations that still affect you. You might not have the support of family, or old friends, which can contribute to your fear, anxiety, depression, stress, and feelings of isolation. Obtaining effective coping skills to help you deal with the feels is important! Deal with the feels, I like that! A therapist can help you process those feelings and help you feel empowered enough to live a good quality of life, while linking you to valuable resources.
What is the health professionals’ role in addressing the sexual health needs of LGBT elders?
- Health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, counselors, social workers, therapists, etc., should educate ourselves on issues, and resources within this community.
- Be aware, and accepting of our own sexual health needs and values.
- Provide an open, compassionate environment for LGBT elders to feel comfortable, discussing their sexual health needs.
- Maintain confidentiality
- Seek professional counsel for our own limiting beliefs and behaviors.
Sexual health issues of LGBT elders are prevalent, but you do not have to suffer in silence. You are not invisible. It is time to take control of your sexual health. If you need support, and are ready to face your anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation, seek help.
If you are in the Baton Rouge, LA or surrounding area, contact Shamyra, at Conquest Counseling to begin your journey.
Content is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute therapeutic relationship.