Older Women's Sexual Desire Problems: Biopsychosocial Factors Impacting Them and Barriers to Their Clinical Assessment

Sexual desire is a major component of sexuality at any age, and inhibited desire is one of the main sexual dysfunctions reported by older women. Nonetheless, in medical settings, for a variety of reasons discussed herein, its assessment—as well as the assessment of older women’s sexual health in general—is typically avoided or conducted by asking a single sex question. In this paper, we have reviewed the literature (most of which is preliminary in nature) regarding the main psychosocial and health factors that could impact older women’s sexual desire, as well as potential obstacles to the assessment and treatment of this geriatric sexual issue. It is certainly advisable that medical care providers who are uncomfortable discussing older women’s sexual concerns be prepared to make appropriate referrals to clinicians who possess the proper training to accurately assess and treat sexual challenges (and female sexual interest problems in particular) in this neglected patient population.