Seniors find easier access to sexual health information online

A lack of acceptance of sexuality among seniors makes it difficult for many to get reliable information.
By Stephen Feller  |  June 10, 2015 at 3:35 PM
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill., June 10 (UPI) -- Seniors are increasingly turning to the Internet for sexual health information, finding sources, services and discussion forums that fill a need caused by an apparent lack of acceptance of sexuality among seniors, according to a new study.

Researchers reviewed discussions of sexual topics on several websites geared toward adults aged 50 or older, discovering that the anonymity of cyberspace helped seniors discuss a wide range of topics such as age differences between partners, taboos, pornography, prostitution, and the use of sexual aids, toys and sex-enhancing drugs.

"Many older people preserve both a high interest in sex and a high involvement in sexual activities," said researcher Liza Berdychevsky, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois who researches sexual behavior and well-being, in a press release. "The popularity of sex-related discussions in seniors' online communities suggests that, in a reality of limited alternatives for open and direct sex-related communication, seniors are finding channels to satisfy their needs for information and support."

The study reviewed posts from 14 websites over a 1 year period, with the posts filtered for sexual keywords. Many seniors who posted noted that they were dismissed by doctors when bringing up sexual topics or that they were nervous to bring them in the first place.

Seniors who had little or no sexual education during their youth were able to become more comfortable discussing practices and concerns as a result of participating in the online communities, they also often said in posts. The availability of information and open conversation offers an opportunity, Berdychevsky said, that allows seniors to overcome difficulties with communicating sexual concerns to healthcare providers.

"Of particular interest was society's lack of acceptance of sexuality in older adulthood, the reasons for this ageist view and the importance of changing it," Berdychevsky said.

The study is published in the Journal of Leisure Research.

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