Sex Ed for the Group We Call Wise

healthgal Health Pro

    Here's the script: Man gets divorced after 22 years of marriage and is "ripe for the social scene."  He can't wait to have his first post-marital sexual experience and when it happens he wants to recapture the adventurous spirit of his youth - so he skips using a condom.  After all, "it's just one time, right??"

    Second script: Woman's husband has a heart attack at age 55, leaving her - age 49 alone and ripe for the picking.  Handsome and debonair family friend who is recently divorced says - "let's get it on woman."  She has 2 glasses of wine and throws caution to the wind; has unprotected sex.

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    Script three: Older widow moves to Florida where the social scene is hopping and she has quite a bit of fun, sharing her bed with a couple of men who think she is "the end all." 
    She does not ask the men to use a condom - after all, she can't get pregnant.


    I can write a couple of other scripts but the net result is the same - man or woman chooses not to use a condom or ask their partners anything about their sexual past because - they are older; pregnancy can't happen; there's no STI (sexually transmitted infections)  problem in the older population, right???

    Very, very wrong.  There has been an escalating problem of STIs in the more mature population - baby boomers included.  According to a new British study the rate of STIs (not including AIDS) in people over age 45 has doubled in less than a decade.  Most common was a prevalence of genital warts (45%) followed by herpes (19% or one in five).    Men ages 55-59 were most likely to have one STI; in women the prevalence of an STI was more likely to be found in the 45 to 54 year old age group.  What is going on here??

    This is the population that has raised teens, even young adults; the educated, mature section of the population.  So why such a blatant disregard of safe sexual practices?  Well for starters, we grownups often talk the talk on a lot of subjects - we just don't walk the walk.  Secondly, we older folks seem to believe we are somehow just a bit more "pure" - we couldn't possibly be harboring diseases like herpes and chlamydia and HPV.  Finally there seems to be that desire to be "free-unencumbered- young again" - when it comes to a second go around at sex.  And since most health surveys look at the sexual practice of younger individuals, this is the first significant study (19 health clinics) that looked at individuals over age 45. And let's be clear about comparison statistics.  When the studies look at teens, the prevalence of infections rose about 97% during the time period of this particular study.  In those over age 45 - the prevalence rose 127%!!


    The take-away message?  Safe sex needs to be on your mind no matter who you are hanging with and no matter what your age.  Even if you came out of a monogamous situation and your new partner claims the same - you risks exposure to a whole bunch of viruses and bacteria if you don't use a condom.  And you need to know - really know your partner's history.  Because a condom is the best shield we have but it's not 100% effective every time and frankly, if you're interested in oral sex - the likelihood you will use a condom is.....So know your partner .......really well.  It just takes one exposure to pick up an STI

Published On: July 01, 2008