for men, and if it goes untreated, may cause irreparable damage to the person, including permanent
—a chronic disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. High blood levels of
glucose can cause several problems, including vision and hearing problems, and among the results
of these conditions may be disruption of sexual arousal.
—inflammation of one or more joints, which results in pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited
movement. These factors may inhibit sexual functioning. Chronic pelvic pain appears to be more
notable among older women and is associated with loss of sexual desire.
—increasingly found in older men in the United States, in the prostate gland. The
prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine
out of the body. The prostate is also associated with seminal discharge when men become aroused.
—breast cancer among women (95%) and men (5%) starts in the tissues of the
breast, and appears to be increasingly common. There are two main types of breast cancer: The
most common is ductal carcinoma, which starts in the ducts that move milk from the breast to the
nipple; lobular carcinoma starts in the breast lobules, which produce milk.
The treatments for these diseases are often controversial, especially when it comes to the effect on
sexuality, because they might hinder sexual expression. As we have seen, however, there are new
treatments and new ways of coping with these ailments. Not all these diseases are fatal. They may result
in chronic conditions that people can manage and even overcome, in some cases. Good medical
treatment, combined with positive social support and continued engagement in life, go together to create
the best possible outcomes.
Elderhood and Healthy Sexuality
Have you ever observed interactions between two people who have been together for decades and still
care about each other? The joy and love on display in these interactions are remarkable because we
associate them with “being in love.” That couple may still be enjoying their intimate sexual relationship in
their old age, much as we saw that an elder couple fell in love in the opening story.