Young adults, under the age of 25, have the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections. But there have been some startling realizations when looking at those of us over 50: we’re giving those young adults a run for their money. Let’s take a look at why sexually transmitted infections are rising for baby boomers, and why safe sex is so important, no matter how old you are.
- STI rates are rising. The number of sexually transmitted infections (or STIs) of people aged 50 to 70 has risen dramatically in recent years. In the last 3 years, this rate has increased by 38 percent. This could be from a number of reasons, including divorce, casual sex, and the misconception that condoms are only for the young. As many of us find ourselves newly single and looking to enjoy life, we need to make sure we’re still practicing safe sex. Make sure you speak with all of your sexual partners about your histories before engaging in sexual activities.
- Lack of sex education. Many of us never had the sort of sex education that younger generations have benefitted from. While the STI rate is highest for people under 25, that’s likely due to youthful irresponsibility. But for the baby boomer generation, it could be a consequence of not having the sort of safe sex awareness campaigns that are taught in school. We need to be proactive and teach ourselves the basics before we begin engaging with new sexual partners.
- Menopause. Maybe some of you are celebrating your freedom from worrying about pregnancy by having sex without condoms. After all, if we can’t get pregnant, what’s the harm? That sort of thinking could be leading directly to the rise of STIs. Practicing safe sex doesn’t just mean avoiding pregnancy. There are many risks of engaging sexually with a partner, especially one we’re not as familiar with as previous partners.
- New, unfamiliar partners. 14% of men in their early 50s reported sleeping with three or more women in the last five years. While only 4% of women in their early 50s reported sleeping with three or more men, the facts remain: we’re getting around more than we had been. The current rate of sexually transmitted infections for people between 50 and 70 are at their highest ever. As we move on from marriages and relationships, start online dating and meeting new people, we need to make sure we’re practicing safe sex.
- No symptoms. One of the biggest factors playing into this rise in STIs could be that very few people who are infected display or experience symptoms, causing them to spread far more quickly. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, and genital warts are some of the most common STIs, so there’s a great deal more at risk when having unprotected sex with someone than just pregnancy. Make sure to get tested regularly, to share any concerns with your partner(s), and to always practice safe sex. These are preventable diseases, as long as we behave responsibly.