(1) Department of Pan African Studies, California State University Northridge, Northridge, California, U.S.A
(2) Department of Clinical Psychology, California State University Northridge, Northridge, California, U.S.A
* Corresponding Author E-mail: Luciana.Lagana@csun.edu
The study of older women’s sexual health has been very limited. Most of the available research in this area is on Caucasian older women; a few studies have targeted the sexuality of older Black women. There could be several reasons for this and for the common reluctance of these women to disclose information on their sexual health. The aim of this review was to discuss factors influencing older black women’s sexual functioning and their disclosure of sexual concerns.
In this article, we first briefly reviewed the literature on sexual health among older women, then covered historical and social issues that are likely to influence older Black women’s sexuality as well as their common reluctance to disclose intimate details of their lives to their health providers. This information could be important for researchers as well as healthcare professionals. Specific groups of clinicians potentially interested in this discussion are sexual health professionals, couples’ counsellors as well as other professionals attempting to address older patients’ problems such as relationship, intimacy and sex challenges. Without knowledge of critical issues such as the potentially traumatising historical events and the multiple societal pressures that are likely to impact these women’s sexuality and disclosure of sexual concerns, it would be difficult for researchers and clinicians to get an accurate account of older Black women’s sexual needs.
Older Black women’s sexuality is a very delicate and complex topic. We encourage interested professionals to make an effort to become more aware of what is potentially holding back older Black women from disclosing their sexual concerns to them, and have provided some historical information and research suggestions to guide professionals interested in investigating older African American women’s sexuality in a more tactful and culturally-sensitive way.