Confiding in spouse about sexual problems makes men happyMay 6th, 2010 - 4:20 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, May 6 (IANS) Older men, who talk to their spouses about sexual problems, report greater happiness while those who talk with friends feel less depressed, says a new study.
The research shows that the way men and women deal with sexual health and stress in their later years varies greatly and that there isn’t one solution that can help ease unhappiness caused by sexual problems.
The research was conducted by Ryo Hirayama, doctoral student in Oregon State University’s (OSU) Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, and Alexis Walker, professor of gerontology and family studies at OSU.
The researchers looked at 861 people aged 57 to 85 who were married or had an intimate partner and who reported having at least one sexual problem.
The sexual problems reported by older adults included lack of interest in sex, inability to climax, physical pain during sex, maintaining an erection, or lubrication issues.
Respondents were asked to indicate on a scale from 1 to 3 how bothered they were by each problem they listed.
They also were asked about their well-being, which the researchers measured by using typical scales for happiness and for depressive symptoms.
The study yielded several surprising findings. First, fewer than half of older adults with sexual problems discussed these problems with their doctors, although men were more likely to do so than women.
In addition, whether older adults discussed these issues with their physicians did not make a difference in their well-being.
“This was our most unexpected outcome,” Hirayama said. “Older adults are advised to talk to their doctors about sexual health issues, but not all people do so and talking with a physician is not as helpful as you might expect.”
However, confiding in a partner or in friends was found to be effective for many men. For women, this same benefit was not reported.
“In fact, women with higher levels of sexual stress who confided in their close friends reported lower happiness,” Hirayama said.
“What this tells is that women’s sexual issues are complex and that complexity needs to be recognised,” Walker said.
“A woman with a great deal of sexual concerns could feel threatened by talking to her spouse about it or perhaps simply confiding in a friend is not enough.”
Since the largest effect size was seen with men who confided in both spouses and friends, the researchers said the result brings into critical focus the importance for men of confiding in family members and friends, said an OSU release.
These findings are slated for publication in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences.
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