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Elderly Women at Risk for STDs

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It is a fact that that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are more common in the younger population. Most middle-aged and elderly people never concern themselves about these unpleasant infections.

In fact, most of the published data indicate that sexually transmitted diseases are a problem with young people. However, this is not true.

A recent report indicates that the rateS of sexually transmitted diseases in middle-aged and elderly individuals have almost doubled in the last decade. The reasons for this sudden rise so far are unclear. (4)

Some experts believe that one cause may be the easy availability of drugs like Viagra for erectile dysfunction, which now makes sex possible for millions of elderly males. (2)

Or it could also be that these baby boomers have rediscovered their sex life and want to remain active by having more sex.

However, an important reason for the increase in sexually transmitted infections is most likely related to low rates of condom use in the elderly. The reason for this is that most elderly no longer worry about pregnancy and think that they are at a very low risk for any infections.

Unfortunately, the real reason is not known because there are very few studies about STDs in this specific population.

Based on the CDC data, in 2010 there were about 2,550 case of syphilis in middle-aged individuals, which is significantly higher than the 900 cases reported in 2000. Similarly, the reported cases of chlamydia has tripled in this age group in the last decade.

Also significant is that the elderly tend to have a very active sex life. One survey conducted by AARP revealed that at least 30 percent of respondents had sex once a week.

More than 85 percent of men and 60 percent of women claimed that sex was important to enhance their quality of life. Of note is that less than 12 percent of men and 32 percent of women used condoms during sex. (3)

Another study done from Boston revealed that there was a dramatic increase in the use of drugs like Viagra by middle-aged males. In addition, these men also had twice the risk for STDs than men who did not take the drugs.

So what now?

Experts in sex education say that health care providers need to talk to middle-aged and elderly individuals about sex and behavior. Even though most of these individuals do not like to talk about sex at the age of 50 or 60, it is important for them to know that just like young people, if they remain sexually active, they are at a risk for STDs.


1. Taylor A, Gosney MA. Sexuality in older age: essential considerations for healthcare professionals.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21778176

2. Albersen M, Orabi H, Lue TF. Evaluation and treatment of erectile dysfunction in the aging male: a mini-review.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21912081

3.Sex, romance and Relationships. Abstract: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/love-sex/info-05-2010/srr_09.html

4. Sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates among seniors double in a decade. Global Post. Retrieved Feb. 6, 2012.

Reviewed February 6, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jessica Obert

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