Sex, Seniors and STDs

What to Know About Rising STD Rates Among Seniors

Getting a sexually transmitted infection or disease in your golden years? It’s more common than you might think!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), STIs are taking hold of our senior citizen population like an epidemic. The CDC estimates that, between 2007 and 2011, chlamydia rates rose more than 32% among 45- to 64-year-olds. Diagnoses of syphilis among seniors during this period increased by more than 15%, too.  

Across the board, the same spectrum of STDs that are currently affecting younger people at alarming rates are also wreaking havoc among seniors. This includes everything from syphilis (see above) to HIV. In 2013, people aged 50 and over accounted for 26% of HIV diagnoses in the United States. Professionals within the eldercare industry are finally discussing this problem and some of the factors that are causing it.

Why Are So Many Seniors Getting Infected?

The truth is that many senior citizens are sexually active these days. There are many reasons why this is the case, but the fact of the matter is that it is happening.

Those worrisome statistics are commonly accepted as truth, but the exact reasons for the increasing infection rates are still open to discussion. Today we’re examining just a few of the reasons why seniors are seeing a bump in sexually transmitted infections and why regular testing is so important.

Sex-Enhancing Medical Advances

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: the drug-induced eradication of erectile dysfunction.

Medications like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are keeping older men very much alive-and-well in the bedroom. And it’s not just men that are seeing the benefits of modern medicine. Senior women are using progesterone and estrogen creams as well, to keep their sex lives healthy way farther into their golden years.

As a nation, we’re living a whole lot longer than previous generations. That means that people are staying active, both physically and sexually, much longer than ever before.

One major change has made a huge difference though: older women are post-menopause, so older couples don’t need to fear accidental pregnancies. That’s leading to a lot of risky, unprotected sex! Just because you don’t have to worry about pregnancy doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about STDs!

Dorm Days 2: Senior Center Sex

For many, college is a time for wild experimentation and having multiple casual partners. Well, senior centers are sort of a college dorm for an older set. Make no mistake; people who live in close quarters with their peers will be having plenty of sex. Even those elderly enough to live in assisted living facilities.

As such, many older adults are reentering the dating market.  Most people incorrectly assume that sexually transmitted infections are an issue for the young. That is a very wrong assumption! The rising STI rates among seniors in the United States are even more prevalent in retirement communities.

Older people are now using dating apps and services, and are as unfamiliar with their new partners as their young counterparts.  Wild, collegiate-level casual sex, leads to the same dangers no matter your age.

The hard truth is that sex education and free access to condoms should be just as prevalent in these senior communities as they are on most college campuses, but aren’t.

A Lack of Sex Education

Speaking of higher learning, many seniors are woefully uninformed when it comes to sex education. Lots of them were married before regular sex education became commonplace.  They may have never had the “safe sex” talk to begin with.  Since pregnancy is no longer a worry, condom use isn’t anywhere near as common as it should be.

To help stop the epidemic, our older citizens need to learn the symptoms and signs of sexually transmitted infections, how they are transmitted and how they can be prevented. Or at least get a refresher course. Learning how to communicate properly about sexual health with their partner(s) is key, especially for new relationships.

Finally, older men and women need to understand the value of regular STI testing. Many seniors may be too shy or embarrassed to bring up a sexual problem with a medical professional. While myLAB Box encourages open and honest conversation about sex, its at-home testing solution can be very helpful in eliminating the need to have that potentially uncomfortable conversation face-to-face.

myLAB Box provides lab-certified results of the exact same quality that you’d receive from a clinic or doctor. These tests can be taken any time, any place – even a senior home facility – and offer secure and accurate results that can be checked discretely online. When it really comes down to it, regular STI testing is the only way to be absolutely sure of your status.

Safe and Sexy Seniors

These are just a few of the reasons for the rise in STIs among seniors. All of the blame cannot rest on the seniors themselves. Medical professionals are just beginning to address the idea of sexually active seniors. A great deal of checkups for older Americans completely forgo any questions about sexual activity. Even fewer actually test seniors for STIs. This leaves a blind spot in far too many people’s general bills of health.

Our seniors live in the prime of their lives far longer than any earlier generation. That’s great news, but detection and treatment options need to be far better publicized to keep their quality of life going strong.

No matter how old you are, knowing the status of your own sexual health, as well as that of your sexual partners, is the best way to stay safe.

References

  1. Broom S. Sex happens after 50, and so do sexually transmitted diseases. Siecus Report, New York. 1999.
  2. Adams M, Oye J, Parker T. Sexuality of older adults and the Internet: From sex education to cybersex. Sexual and Relationship Therapy. 2010.
  3. Mugavero MJ, Castellano C, Edelman D, et al. Late Diagnosis of HIV infection: The Role of Age and Sex. American Journal of Medecine. 2007.

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