In the cartoon that I have chosen an old man is at his doctor’s office inquiring about Viagra, a popular sexual enhancement drug for men. The doctor is holding an article that clearly states one of the side effects of Viagra is blindness the man is still eager to use it. The message that this cartoon is conveying is that even while in an older age sex is still a part of life. While there are many similarities between the youth and the older generation, the older population face different types of obstacles when it comes to physiological, psychological, and social aspects.
All ages face physiological difficulties when maturing however, the older population faces their own difficulties. In Meston’s research (1997), 55 percent of men experience impotence by the age of 75 (p. 286). As men age, the sensitivity of their penis decreases (Meston, 1997). While younger men can attain an erection by simply thinking of something it is not the same for the older population (Meston, 1997). Due to the penis losing sensitivity older men require direct touching to get, as well as maintain, an erection (Meston, 1997). This decline also affects the stiffness of the penis (Meston, 1997). Penis stiffness generally declines as men reach their 60’s (Meston, 1997). This is not ideal for many couples so this causes men and women to search for medications, such as Viagra, to help with this situation. Menopause has a huge impact on women. Menopause affects most women around the age of 50 (Meston, 1997). Menopause is caused by a drastic decrease in estrogen which has a drastic effect on the vagina (Meston, 1997). The lack of estrogen in the female body causes a decrease in vaginal secretions which is a natural lubricant while performing intercourse (Meston, 1997). The lack of lubricant makes it painful for older women to have intercourse.
As you can imagine the older generation has psychological issues as well, many of which are the same as the younger population. They experience negative thoughts of their bodies due to surgery and/or natural body changes (McNicoll, 2008). The negative body images make them feel unattractive and possibly less of a woman/man. Performance anxiety is also a big one with them because they begin to have all of these issues arise when they become older simply due to age (McNicoll, 2008). One example for men being the inability to get an erection. While women are not able to produce lubricant for intercourse. These can be seen as a deal breaker for some thus causing anxiety in the person. Unfortunately, some spouses die leaving behind a love one who may or may not want to try dating again (What Are, 2018). This places additional stress on them if they have not been single in many years. They have to figure out how to go approach the opposite sex again as well as discuss each other’s sexual histories which could be embarrassing for them if their number is considered low or high. They also experience depression from various reasons which often goes undiagnosed (10 Common, 2018). Depression has a negative impact on sexual drive in all ages but it plays a bigger role in the elderly and their sexual drive because many times psychiatrists do not take sexual history from them so they are only treated partially instead of fully (Taylor & Gosney, 2011).
Even though many do not wish to think of their parents or grandparents engaging in sexual activity it is still happening. Just because they are older does not make them exempt from sexually transmitted infections or diseases. There has recently been an increase in sexually transmitted diseases in older adults due to many factors such as weakened immune system, not considering oral or anal sex a factor, or simply having more than one partner and not thinking that they are infected (Sexually Transmitted, 2018). Many also believe that once a woman reaches menopause there is no need to be concerned because she can no longer become pregnant (Sexually Transmitted, 2018). This type of thinking is part of the reason that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the senior community. Senior citizens are also not using protection because they feel as though they are not at risk for diseases (Sexually Transmitted, 2018). Just as younger people receive a lot of information about safe sex and dating the older community needs to be reminded of it as well.
While it may be difficult to see, these three aspects are prevalent in my cartoon. Physiologically the patient is having difficulty getting an erection so he is seeking out medicinal help. Psychologically he may be depressed because of the recent loss his lover which is why he is unable to get erect. Socially he is clearly still sexually active, with the possibility of many lovers, which is also why he is inquiring about Viagra. It could also be possible that his lover is still alive and they are simply trying to, in humble terms, keep the magic alive. This cartoon shows the typical thoughts that many have of sex and senior citizens. Most believe that some form of medicine is required, which may not always be the case. This cartoon also leaves room open for interpretation of what else could possibly be going on mentally and socially. The cartoonist does a good job of portraying the common bleak outlook on sexuality that so many are dreading of approaching.
In today’s society it is unheard of, and in many situations taboo, to have the words sex and elders in the same sentence. It is strange to think of anyone over the age of 40 engaging in any type of intercourse even though it is a normal part of life. People associate getting old with a decline in sexual desire and in some aspects they are correct, however, that is not entirely true. While the older generation face more difficulties when it comes to sex it is still a part of their lives and society needs to become more accepting of that. Regardless of whether or not we want to accept it, sex is still relevant to senior citizens.
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