Sex study needs your help

Sex study aims to improve conversations with health professionals

Latest in Health
Don't shy away from talking about sex.

Don't shy away from talking about sex.


Change the conversation about intimacy over 60.


TALKING sex with your GP can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.

That's why a new study needs your help to improve the conversation on this important topic.

Alison Rahn from University of New England is seeking people over 60 to answer an anonymous survey about their experiences discussing sexual health with medical professionals.

"There's quite a lot of research that shows that older people feel uncomfortable talking to health professionals about sexual issues," Dr Rahn said.

"There's also a lot of research about health professionals feeling uncomfortable talking to older people about sexual issues.

"An older person fronts up for a medical consultation and neither one of them want to bring up the subject. As a consequence, a lot of problems that could be easily dealt with are not even getting any attention."

Dr Rahn said sexual health problems can be an indication of underlying issues.

"For example, erectile dysfunction can be an early sign of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

"If no one is asking the question then that underlying disease can go untreated when it could have been dealt with early."

She said despite perceptions, people don't necessarily lose interest in sex as they age.

"We all remain the same person we've always been, we just get older.

"Whatever you were interested in when you were younger, you're still interested in when you're older. Sex is no different.

"The form that takes may change due to physical changes but the level of interest or positive or negative attitudes towards it, don't change."

Dr Rahn hopes to bridge the discomfort experienced by both older people and health professionals in order to make a conversation about sex possible.

"The aim of this project is to develop educational materials for health professionals to create the most comfortable environment possible to bring up such a sensitive topic.

​"It's important to hear the voices of older people themselves because they're the ones who are actually on the front line experiencing these comfortable or uncomfortable situations."

She said the questions are fairly general in nature and focus on experiences with health professionals rather than what goes on in the bedroom.

Dr Rahn is conducting her research in partnership with Council of the Ageing Australia (COTA).

The online survey is open until April 22 and takes about 20-30 minutes to complete.

To take part visit