The Impact of Aging on Sexual Function in Women and Their Partners
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Aging has a powerful impact on the quality of relationship and sexual functioning. The psychological impact of aging after midlife is a particularly timely topic, given improved medical and psychological understanding of sexuality in both women and men as well as significant improvement in the conceptualization of female sexuality and evolving treatment advances for female sexual dysfunctions. It is time to dispel the stereotype of the midlife woman in order to more effectively address emotional and sexual issues arising in her relationships. Regardless of the length or nature of the relationship, its quality is enhanced by emotional intimacy, autonomy without too much distance, an ability to manage stress, and to maintain a positive perception of self and the relationship. To understand and treat effects of aging on sexuality, it is important to address the three components of sexual desire: drive, beliefs/values, and motivation, as well as the social context of a woman's life. It is also essential to understand how the physiological changes in female as well as male sexual functioning impact desire. Further, other health-related changes that occur with aging must be recognized and addressed.
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