Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Defining Sexual Wellness in Mid- and Later Life

J Sex Res; ePub 2018 Apr 18; Syme, Cohn, et al

When conceptualizing sexual wellness in midlife and older adults, it is imperative to capture their multidimensionality, include those who are not actively engaging in sex, and be aware of the influence of ageist and dysfunction-based narratives, according to a recent study. Researchers sought to address these limitations by providing a conceptualization of sexual wellness grounded in definitions. A sample of 373 midlife and older adults in the US provided a definition of sexual wellness. Using thematic analysis, multiple researchers coded qualitative responses, and results suggested a biopsychosocial-cultural framework. They found:

  • Midlife and older adults provide multifaceted definitions inclusive of various behavioral experiences, including disengaging from sex.
  • They are also keenly aware of physical and psychological limitations and strengths, and emphasize mutual experiences and synchronicity.
  • Midlife and older adults also reflect on age, drawing comparisons to different phases of life, and adaptability in adjusting expectations.


Syme ML, Cohn TJ, Stroffregen S, Kaempfe H, Schippers D. “At my age … “: Defining sexual wellness in mid- and later life. [Published online ahead of print April 18, 2018]. J Sex Res. doi:10.1080/00224499.2018.1456510.