Gender and Sexuality in Aging

Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Sexuality continues to have gendered scripts and cultural directives even towards the middle and last quartile of men and women’s lives. This article looks at how these scripts create different meanings and consequences for men and women’s sexual self-definition, behaviors, and opportunities. We also help direct future research on men and women post-50 as this population has been under-researched and often overlooked by studies seeking to better understand human sexuality. Studies that do exist generally emphasize the importance of biology and age on sexual activity, too readily neglecting social factors such as gender and presence of an intimate partner. We provide a review of the current knowledge regarding (1) how women and men’s sexuality functions in later life (e.g. frequency of sexual encounters, sexual satisfaction, and the impact of different kinds of pairings), (2) major sex-specific physical transitions that impact sexuality in older populations, and (3) psychosocial factors that influence sexual behavior and attitudes in both heterosexual and LGB individuals. We further analyze gender as a social construct and discuss cultural beliefs about aging as they impact sexuality. We note the paucity of data on older LGB and minority groups and discuss issues that affect these groups’ sexual realities.


Sexuality Aging Gender 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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