The Importance of Sexual Wellness

By:  Aaliyah Ellison-McPeters

Photo credit:

The Importance of Sexual Wellness

Sexual wellness is the part of sexuality that affects the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a person’s life and overall well-being. It’s important, at an age, to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy sexual wellness balance and the impact it can have. Being aware of sexual health and wellness means being able to understand and express one’s sexuality and how it means more than just sexual behaviors, having access to resources, understanding how to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies, and more. Engaging in healthy, safe, and sexual activity has been linked to improved immune function, a drop in the risk of heart disease, and can aid in overall sleep quality. A person’s mental and emotional health can be negatively affected by unsafe or ill-informed sexual expression. Intimacy can improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and contribute to how a person feels about themselves and their partner. Through fostering healthy techniques for maintaining one’s sexual health and accepting their sexuality, people can have fulfilling and safe sex lives.

Sexual Wellness and Aging

As people get older, their sexual health and activity can be affected as their bodies and overall health begin to change. For women, the common transition in their bodies is menopause. Menopause causes a loss in female reproduction hormones, estrogen being the main one. Women can begin experiencing menopause as early as 40, which is referred to as perimenopause. The loss of estrogen that occurs during menopause can cause changes in vaginal shape and lubrication, painful intercourse, and reduced libido. Menopause can also affect a woman’s sleeping patterns and weight. As men age, their sex drive can also decrease, though the exact cause is not as clear. Erectile dysfunction and changes in the prostate are common side effects of aging for men. Inflammation of the prostate, prostatitis, enlarged prostate, and prostate cancer are seen frequently and affect physical and sexual health. Additionally, as we age, chronic diseases become more prevalent. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, arthritis, and incontinence are a few conditions that present in physical and sexual form, causing problems with blood flow, yeast infections, ED, and more.

Challenges and Stigmas

Despite the importance of sexual health and wellness, many adults, as they age, face stigmas that can negatively hinder their ability to embrace their sexuality and practice safe sex. Ageism, discrimination based on one’s age, is the leading stigma older adults face in the discourse on sexual health. Often, older adults are seen as asexual or incapable of sexual desire; this stereotype diminishes their experiences and reinforces ignorance of intimacy and pleasure. Additionally, as changes in physical health occur with age, there is often a misconception that health disorders completely void adults of sexual pleasure and paint them to be perceived as undesirable partners. These stigmas can also affect the access aging adults have to receive support and sexual health services that fit their needs. These individuals will still require access to healthcare to ensure they are practicing safe sex, along with educational material and counseling services.

Nurturing Sexual Wellness Later in Life

Embracing one’s sexuality and sexual wellness later in life means redefining intimacy based on individual needs and expectations. There are various ways to nurture sexual wellness, may that be through exploring new forms of affection, prioritizing mental health, or seeking a healthcare provider for guidance on age-related health concerns. Aging is a privilege and shouldn’t be an excuse not to embrace the vitality of our sexuality.


Sexuality and Intimacy in Older Adults. (n.d.). National Institute on Aging. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from

Aging and human sexuality resource guide. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2024, from

Træen, B., & Villar, F. (2020). Sexual well-being is part of aging well. European Journal of Ageing, 17(2), 135–138.

The National Council on Aging. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2024, from:

Sexual Health | Aging & Health A-Z | American Geriatrics Society | (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2024, from

Sexual Health And Wellbeing In Later Life. (n.d.). Age-Friendly World. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from

“I’m Too Old for That”: The Role of Ageism and Sexual Dysfunctional Beliefs in Sexual Health in a Sample of Heterosexual and LGB Older Adults: A Pilot Study—PMC. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2024, from

Examining aging sexual stigma attitudes among adults by gender, age, and generational status—PMC. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2024, from

Read More