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Sex and drugs (with or without rock and roll)

Annals of Internal Medicine published an interesting article today on sexual activity in 75 to 95 year-old men. Using data from a large cohort study in Australia, the authors identified several interesting findings:

  • While sexual activity decreases with advancing age, it is still common: approximately 40% of men age 75-79, 30% of men age 80-84, and 20% of men age 85-90 are sexually active
  • Roughly half of participants reported that sex was at least somewhat important. Many stated that sex was moderately or very important
  • Among men who were not sexually active, only 40% stated it was because of lack of interest. Reasons commonly cited for not being sexually active included lack of a partner, physical limitations of oneself or of the partner, and lack of interest by the partner.
  • Several reversable risk factors were associated with lack of sexual activity, including use of beta blockers and antidepressants (thus the title of this post).
These findings should not be surprising - news flash, men like to have sex - but serve as a useful reminder to consider probing about this important quality of life issue. I recently revised my clinic note template to remind myself to intermittently ask patients for updates on key geriatric issues, for example falls, functional status, continence, etc - but to my chagrin I now realize that sexual function didn't make the list. It may be time to change that template...
by: Mike Steinman

Comments

Helen Chen said…
Thanks, Mike. This is a good reminder. And while you are asking about sexual activity, please consider asking and counseling about HIV risks. Between 10-15% of new HIV infections occur in people over the age of 50, many of whom may not view themselves as being in a risk group. Since unintended pregnancy is generally not an issue, barrier methods may be perceived as unnecessary.

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