When people talk about STD’s – sexually transmitted diseases – they most frequently think of naïve teenagers or professional “sex workers” – both groups notorious for engaging in risky sex behaviors. Yet, I think you’ll be surprised at which groups of people are even more at risk for getting an STD and you may just be one of them. Let me tell you the shocking news I recently learned.
Boomer Sex: Are You at High Risk for an STD?
I recently read the results of a CDC (Centers for Disease Control) report on STD’s. I have to say, I was shocked. People over 50 are getting STD’s more than ever before. Post-menopausal women are at higher risk than younger women! But how can that be?
Well, for one thing, online dating has skyrocketed the opportunity to meet available people on the Internet. Secondly, drugs like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra (for the treatment of erectile dysfunction in men) have helped boost the frequency, and amount, of sexual relations in 50+ populations. Even a recent report out of the University of Maryland School of Public Health reported that Baby Boomers are having sex 2-3 times a month.
Now, all that’s fine and dandy – I want to see people 50+ staying active and enjoying life both socially and sexually. It’s what keeps you young and happy. Yet, an unhappy downside has surfaced about Baby Boomers having all that sex. You guessed it – STD’s. But why are Boomers getting so many STD’s? Aren’t they the sexually savvy “Love Generation” who paved the road to change for greater sophistication and freedom about sexual relationships, mores and codes of conduct? Yes, they are, but…
Seems many Boomers – especially post-menopausal women – think that if you can no longer get pregnant you no longer need to use a condom. This is the main cause of so many older women getting a monumental amount of STD’s like gonorrhea and chlamydia. In fact, a University of Chicago study revealed that 60% of women, aged 58 to 93, didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex. Another reason is that older women are more prone to vaginal infections in general. With menopause, the physical lining of the vagina has become thinner; the normally protective mucous lining of the vagina has decreased and makes tiny tears more likely which allow viruses and bacteria to gain a stronghold.
Yet, Boomer guys are not far behind. In fact, together, the CDC reports that the incidences of syphilis and chlamydia in adults aged 45-64 tripled over the decade between 2000 and 2010. A study out of Indiana University revealed that 91% of men over 50 didn’t use a condom during sex with a date or casual acquaintance. Another 70% of them didn’t use a condom with a sex partner they had just met.
Now, I know the Boomer Generation wasn’t also called the Love Generation for nothing. They are the generation that broke down all the barriers regarding sexual relationships, did away with the double standards between men and women and created the concept of “free love” and sexual expression. Sex was no longer for just creating babies as it was primarily thought of in generations before – the Boomers elevated sex to an interpersonal form of communication.
Without Boomers, the social fabric of the United States wouldn’t be what it is today. But, in 2013 with the STD statistics rising amongst them, researchers wonder why such a sophisticated generation is behaving so irresponsibly? Do they feel at their age it no longer matters? Or could it be that they are just not aware that many people their age are not practicing safe sex?
If for whatever your reason for not practicing safe sex, the only way to protect yourself against getting an STD, that can lead to chronic pelvic inflammation and pain, is to use a condom each and every time you have sex – especially if you are not monogamous in your relationships – and especially if you’re having sex with people you just met, or haven’t known very long.
Ask a few questions of your prospective partner before you decide to have sex with them. But, also know that not everyone is honest. So, taking responsibility for your own sexual health is important. Today, there is even a “female condom” that, in true independent Boomer spirit, allows a woman to take control of her own sexual health. No longer does she have to hope, or worry, that her partner did, or didn’t, bring a condom. The same is true for men – carrying a condom in your wallet could be the most important thing you bring on a date.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Boomers and Sex: The Facts About STD’s, http://www.grandparents.com/family-and-relationships/dating-and-marriage-and-sex/seniors-std-facts
Why Are Boomers Getting STD’s? http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/booming/baby-boomers-at-risk-for-sexually-transmitted-disease.html?_r=0