When I started this blog, I never thought that I would be writing about STDs, but apparently, it’s a thing now in the baby boomer generation and it needs to be discussed. There has been an alarming increase over the last 15 years in reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The Center for Disease Control listed these scary statistics:
- Between 2007 and 2014, the number of reported cases of chlamydia in our age group jumped by 32%.
- During that same time, the number of reported cases of syphilis was up by 52% (and that’s just the reported cases).
- HIV is spreading more quickly than in any other age group.
- 3 out of 4 people with hepatitis C are people born between 1945 and 1965. They are 5 times more likely to have hepatitis C than any other age group. Most people who are infected don’t know it because it can go decades without symptoms. The CDC is recommending that anyone born during these years get tested.
Why is this happening?
- People are living longer, more healthy lives and with that often comes the desire to be sexually active.
- Many women are single due to divorce or the death of a spouse and have returned to the dating scene.
- Over 55 communities can be almost like a dorm in that people can jump from one relationship to another with much more ease.
- There is better living through chemistry. Both men and women can enhance their sex lives with medications such as Viagra and estrogen and progesterone creams.
- Online dating sites also give access to potential new partners who may not be as forthcoming about their sexual history as they might.
A lot of our generation has not had the education about sexually transmitted diseases that the younger generation has had. Add to this our history of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and we can see why there may be a problem.
Massachusetts General Hospital did a study and found that men aged 50 and older are 6 times less likely to uses a condom than men in their 20s. Yikes! And let’s face it, because there are more women our age than men, we are less likely to insist that he does because we don’t want to be rejected.
Because symptoms may be absent or mild, people may not be aware they have been infected. Even if they are aware, many are too embarrassed to seek help from their healthcare provider even though the tests may be covered by insurance or Medicare. So diseases continue to spread.
So what’ a woman to do? Give up your dating life? Give up sex?
No. Physical and emotional intimacy is good for our health and wellness. None of us want to end up alone and isolated at the end of our lives.
For women, an ongoing healthy sex life contributes to vaginal wellness and improved bladder control. It can help us to sleep better and can be great exercise, promoting cardiovascular health, maintaining flexibility, lowering blood pressure and can act as an overall stress-reducer. One more important benefit: sex has been shown to strengthen the immune system.
With all the good that sex can do, we must still be cautious and behave responsibly. Start with getting tested, especially for Hepatitis C so that you have a good baseline. Choose partners wisely and use condoms effectively.
If you’d rather not visit your health care provider for these tests, you can find online test kits starting at $79.00 from myLAB Box. I will be sharing my experience with them soon.
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