Reaching menopause can be liberating since women no longer have to worry that having sex will lead to pregnancy. However, a far scarier outcome is still possible if you’re having sex with someone you don’t know well – human immunodeficiency virus, which is more commonly known as HIV.
Womenshealth.gov, which is a project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, reports that almost a quarter of the population who have HIV are 50 years old and up. And as a women who is perimenopausal or menopausal, your risk of getting HIV is greater since your vagina will not be as lubricated as it was in your youth. That puts you at risk for tiny tears in your vagina while having sex, which, in turn, makes it easier to contract HIV.
Even if you’re done with your menstrual period, it’s important to be tested regularly for HIV, especially if you’re:
- Sexually active and don’t use condoms.
- You’ve had any type of sex and don’t know your own HIV status as well as that of your sexual partner.
- You’re not up-to-date about your sexual partner’s drug and sexual history.
- You’ve had a blood transfusion or operation in a developing country any time during your life.
- You’ve had a blood transfusion in the United States between 1978 and 1985.
In addition, you want to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). If you have one of these, your chances of becoming infected with HIV increases. And if your sexual partner is HIV-positive and has an STI, your risk of HIV infection increases again.
It’s also important that you practice safe sex in order to reduce your chance of contracting HIV. According to Womenshealth.gov, to have safer sex, you need to do the following:
- Abstinence, which is the only way to truly ensure that you don’t get HIV through sexual contact. By abstaining, you decide not to have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
- Realize that you can get HIV from oral sex and anal sex, as well as penile-vaginal sex.
- Make sure you use condoms every time you have sex. It’s better to use a male condom, which will greatly lower a woman’s risk of contracting HIV during sex. There are also condoms for women; however, there isn’t a lot of research indicating that these are as effective as male condoms. Also, be sure that you don’t have sex in which both partners use condoms because they do not work together and can break. Also, use condoms that are latex or polyurethane (for those who are allergic to latex); please remember that natural or lambskin condoms will not protect you from HIV. In addition, using dental dams can help lower risk levels of getting HIV during oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex.
- Be in a monogamous relationship, which will help you remain safe.
- If you’ve got multiple sexual partners, realize that your chances of contracting HIV increase. Therefore, you need to be vigilant in ensuring that condoms are properly used every time you have sex.
- Realize that birth control, such as birth control pills, shots, implants and diaphragms, will not protect you from contracting HIV. So you need to make sure that you use proper protection (a male condom or dental dam).
- Using gels, foams, or suppositories that have nonoxynol-9 (N-9) will not lower the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, N-9 will increase your risk of HIV infection since it can irritate the vagina.
- Don’t douche since it removes normal vaginal bacteria that serve as protection against infection, including HIV.
So even if your monthly menstrual period is no more, please make sure that you make smart choices about your sex life.
Published On: September 22, 2011