Dementia and the Impact on Sexual Health

Dementia and the Impact on Sexual HealthWhen people think of dementia, they rarely give a thought to how it affects a person’s sex life. Dementia largely influences sexual feelings, intimacy, and overall sex drive. On the upside, though, just because a person suffers from dementia doesn’t mean he or she can’t have a good sex life.

The brain itself is responsible for controlling a person’s sexual inhibitions. Being that the brain is affected by dementia, this means big changes are likely to take place. It depends on which parts of the brain that dementia is affecting as to the exact changes that will occur. Many people with dementia report one or more of the following changes:

  • Becoming sexually aggressive
  • More interested in sex
  • Less interested in sex
  • No interest in sex
  • Negative impact on one’s ability to perform sexually
  • Changes in inhibitions

A reduced sex drive doesn’t necessarily mean a person with dementia won’t want to have sex. In fact, many find that they are just as interested in sex, however, they aren’t the ones to initiate it. When their partners initiate it, they are more than happy and willing to engage in sexual activities.

As noted above, some people with dementia find that their sex drive greatly increases
. Their partners often welcome the change, but some find they cannot keep up with their loved one’s sexual demand. When this happens, the person with dementia may become aggressive.

It is of the utmost importance for partners of people with dementia to realize that sexual engagements may be forgotten about immediately or soon after they take place. This can make it very odd in some circumstances. For those with severe dementia, they may not even recognize their partners after having sex.

Anyone suffering from dementia should speak with his or her partner about sexual consent. For example, if a wife tells her husband that they can continue to have sex until she gets to a point where she no longer recognizes him, then this gives him consent to have sex up until that point. If she says they can still have sex even if she doesn’t recognize him, then he’ll know that she provided consent. Still yet, if one of the partners ever says no —  at any point in time — then sex should be off the table until consent is given again.

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