Sexually Transmitted Diseases on the Rise for Older Adults

Safe sex isn't just important for young people

Credit: Wellness Matters

Practicing safe sex by using protection is important at any age

Re-entering the dating scene later in life can be an intimidating experience. Be prepared by understanding the health risks when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases

While young Canadians are bombarded with information about the importance of practising safe sex, the message seems to get lost as we get older.

Unprecedented numbers of older adults are re-entering the dating scene, but evidently they aren’t practising what they’ve been preaching to their kids. Studies have shown that condom use drops steeply from teenagers to single young adults, and even further for sexually active older adults. In fact, studies indicate that up to 91% of men over 50 do not use condoms for casual sex.

Know Your Partner’s Sexual History

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) do not discriminate by age, despite the perception that protection is only for the young. Infection rates for chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea are sharply on the rise among older adults, and seniors are the fastest-growing population for HIV infection. 

You can maintain a healthy sex life at any age and still reduce your risk of STI infection. Ask your partners about their sexual histories and drug use, and if they get tested for HIV. Get regular checkups, and talk to your doctor about your own risk level.

Most importantly, buy latex or polyurethane condoms and use one every time you have sex. Remember that these materials break down over time, so check the expiry date on the package and replace them if they are outdated.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.