Promoting a discussion on later life sexuality: Lessons from sexologist physicians

Ateret Gewirtz-Meydan, Inbar Levkovich, Moshe Mock, Uri Gur, Liat Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined factors at the structural and individual levels that can facilitate discussion of sexual matters between physicians and older patients. Fifteen physicians from differing medical specialties, who are also certified sexologists or qualified in human sexuality, were interviewed for the study. Open-coding analysis was employed, consisting of comparisons within and across interviews. Three major themes emerged: (1) increase the visibility and importance of older adults’ sexuality, as the first step in facilitating discussion on sexual matters in later life by raising awareness of sexuality in older adults in a non-stigmatized way, (2) increase knowledge of medical students and physicians and provide accurate, up-to-date knowledge to older adults, and (3) display more openness to discussing elderly sexuality in clinical encounters, by creating an accepting atmosphere in which older patients feel comfortable discussing their sexual needs. The findings highlight that the communication between physicians and older patients needs to extend beyond practical guidance, and that ageist beliefs that assume older adults are not interested in sex should be challenged. After acknowledging older people as sexual beings, increasing the knowledge of later-life sexuality is essential, and practical guidelines for open discussions can be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-210
Number of pages18
JournalSexual and Relationship Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.


  • Sexual discussion
  • older adults
  • physicians
  • sexologists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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