Seniors are living longer and healthier lives, so naturally they are having more sex. One large study showed two-thirds of men and 40 percent of women over 65 are still having sex, and although the percentages decrease for those over the age of 80, there are plenty of grandparents still doing the deed.
Having sex can offer many health benefits – it can boost mood, improve cardiovascular health and can even boost your immune system – but at the same time it can have pretty serious consequences. A major drawback to sex is sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and it turns out more and more seniors are contracting them.
Seniors at high risk for STIs
It may seem bizarre that seniors are at high risk for STIs, but there are many reasons behind the claim. For starters, education surrounding STIs and sexual health are often geared toward the younger generation, so although the youngsters are aware of the threat of sex, seniors are left in the dark. Additionally, there is still much stigma surrounding sex and the elderly, so not many people openly talk about the concerns seniors may have in regards to sex – they may even be embarrassed to speak to their own doctors about it.
Numerous research has shown that seniors are often too embarrassed to discuss their sex questions with their doctor, especially men. On the other hand, many doctors report that they don’t bridge the subject with their older patients, thus further weakening the communication lines.
One thing is for sure, seniors no longer have the worry or fear of accidental pregnancy, so having sex is just for enjoyment and not for the purpose of procreation. With the fear of pregnancy behind them, many of them do not opt for “safe” sex. However, using a condom doesn’t just prevent pregnancy, it also lowers the risk of contracting or transferring a sexually transmitted infection as well.
Lastly, there are many medications – for males and females – available to boost sex-drive and vitality, so why not hit the sack now that you have more time? If society is pushing for older people to be more sexually active, why are we not teaching them how to do it safely?
Complications of STIs in seniors
Although anyone can contract STIs if playing unsafely, seniors are at a greater risk because their aging immune systems are weaker and more prone to infection. Furthermore, age-related conditions that seniors are at higher risk for – heart disease, liver disease and diabetes – can add more complications if an STI is developed.
Not only can an STI go symptomless for a long period of time, which prolongs treatment, sometimes treatment can interfere with current medications that a person is already taking.
To avoid complications related to STIs, it’s important to still practice safe sex.
Tip to lower your risk of STI
No matter how old you are, you should always protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections. Here are some tips to help lower your risk of STIs, while still enjoying sex right into your golden years.
- Always speak to your partner prior to engaging in sex. Talk about condoms and even any STIs you or they may have.
- Educate yourself. Speak with your doctor and visit sexual health websites to obtain as much information as possible.
- Get yourself tested for STIs, even if you’ve been with the same partner.
- If you’re a doctor or healthcare provider, be more open with your patients and start the conversation.
If you follow these tips, you can enjoy safer sex without the risk of a surprise sexually transmitted infection.
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