Talking about sex with friends: perspectives of older adults from the Sex, Age and Me study in Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • This qualitative study explored the barriers and facilitators to sexual communication between older adults and friends. Fifty-three women and men aged 58 and older were interviewed about their intimate relationships and sexual behaviours and attitudes. Findings indicated that talking about sex with friends played an important role in providing support and sharing information. The privacy of the topic meant that trust and confidentiality had to be in place before sexual conversations occurred, and that discretion was required for those married or in a relationship due to potential breaches of privacy. Stereotypes associated with older age made talking about sex 'risky' as participants were vulnerable to scrutiny. Growing-up during a time when sex was taboo influenced willingness and comfort in talking about sex today. Among those who did talk with friends, women tended to talk to women and men to men. These findings are significant in the context of an increasing global population of older adults and silence around sex and ageing. By exploring sexual communication outside of the healthcare context, where previous research has focused, the findings indicate novel ways to support the sexual health and well-being of older adults.

publication date

  • 2020