Most of us tend to think about sexually transmitted infections as something that only affects younger people. Did you know that STDs are on the increase in every age group in the UK, with a bigger rise in older people? This might surprise you but there are many reasons as to why this is occurring.
The two diseases that saw the biggest rise in the older generation were chlamydia and gonorrhea. The infections are still only affecting a very small percentage of the aging population, however, upward trends can lead to significant snowballing if the problems aren’t addressed. Why are more older people contracting sexually transmitted infections?
Whilst divorce rates are on the decline, the amount of divorces are on the rise in older age groups and this means that people are seeking new relationships later on in life. As well as divorce, when older people are bereaved they then might embark on new relationships. And you might well think that as people get older, they have less sex but you might be surprised to learn that 80% of people aged between 50 and 90 are sexually active.
Many older people who have been through a divorce or bereavement and started a new relationship think that they don’t need to use protection during sex. This can be because they associate infection with younger people or because there is little risk of pregnancy, protection doesn’t seem required.
The rise in dating sites and apps is making it far easier for older people to set up casual dates and for many, at this point in their lives, they feel more freedom with their sexuality and it could be the first time they have had casual sex or multiple partners. These are the reasons why public health officials are concerned about the upward trend in STDs in this age group.
So, why aren’t older people practising safe sex?
- Some older people never received a great deal of sex education when they were younger and many might not be aware of the risks of STDs. A great deal of sex education in the 1960s for example focused on pregnancy prevention and not much else.
- Once the risk of falling pregnant is removed, many aging people believe that there is no need for protection like condoms.
- Until as late as 2019, public health and government health campaigns are targeted primarily at younger audiences. There is a gap in both education and reaching out to people over 50 about STD symptoms and where to go to get tested. For information on Chlamydia Testing kits Bexley, visit checkurself.org.uk/plus/home_sti_kits/
- There is still a stigma around sexual health and testing for the older generation who are often not as comfortable dealing with this subject as younger people. This embarrassment leads to older age groups not accessing the information they need to manage their sexual health effectively.