Having sexual contact while protecting yourself and your partner(s) from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy is what is known as having a “safe sex.” For seniors, 50years plus, getting pregnant is out of question, except in few cases, this thought has prevented many seniors 50s,60s and above from seeing the need to practice safe sex, believing that – after all, she “ain’tgonna” get pregnant. The last time they had to pay detail to practice safe sex, it was because of the fear of getting pregnant, rather than contacting some sort of sexually transmitted infections (STI). Unfortunately, seniors have been vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) more than the young adults over the past few years.
At 50 plus, majority of the seniors are still sexually active, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, among the 50s and above, more than half of men and 40 percent of the women are active sexually. Price said “Many of us (seniors) are still having the best sex of our lives. We are the love generation, we practically invented sex.”
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the reported cases of chlamydia among Americans of age 60 and above increased by 32 % while the reported cases of syphilis increased by 52% in the same age group between 2007 and 2011. CDC also estimated that 16 percent of new cases of HIV/Aids are among the ages of 50 and above while 25 percent of people living with HIV are over 50 years of age. The reasons that could be attributed to the increase in STIs and STDs in seniors than in younger adults includes: –
- For single seniors, most especially those living in the senior housing communities – find it easy to move from one sexual partner to another and the knowledge that it’s impossible to get pregnant adds to their negligence of practicing safe sex.
- Besides seniors who live in the seniors’ community, those who take advantage of online dating do jump at the chance of having a go at their partner without getting checked.
- Lack of regular screening for STDs among seniors.
- During menopause, women vagina tends to become dry and less lubricant, this often leads to micro-tears during sex. Thinning of the tissues makes it more vulnerable to spread and contact STDs.
- Seniors neither use condoms nor ask their partners to use condoms, maybe because they don’t want to initiate conversation about their sexual history.
What could be the reasons for the increase in sexual activities of the seniors?
- The improvement in medical care and nutrition has resulted in longer lives and sexual activities in most seniors.
- Availability of medications like Viagra, estrogen and progesterone cream etc.
- The emergence of internet dating.
- The rise in housing community for seniors where socialization is encouraged.
Need For love and sex in seniors
The old age of 50s and above is often associated with loneliness, retirement, boredom etc. At this age, only few people are lucky to remain with the partners whom they started life together, some might have suffered from the loss of a partner, dear ones or the aftermath of a divorce. That’s why some seniors prefer to move down to the seniors’ community, at least to past time with their generation. What children and caregivers of these seniors should understand is that, they need much attention, love and happiness.
Living with seniors who have past experiences to share and common goal to achieve is not an uncommon factor in the senior’s community; sometimes they get emotional with each other -leading to sex. Sex on the other hand helps release these tensions and get relieved from their agony, other reasons for Seniors to have sex are: –
- It allows seniors to derive physical, emotional and mental satisfaction even though the form and act might have changed over the years.
- Sex reduces the chance of prostate cancer in older men.
- Sex life in older women contributes to a healthy vagina and improves bladder.
- The production of oxytocin hormones while having sex results in an increase in endorphins which helps in reducing pains.
- Sex improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure and it’s a very good reducer of stress, that’s why people get better sleep after sex.
- Sex helps seniors to strengthen their immune system.
Hey senior! Are you planning to have sex?
If you are planning to have sex, understand what safe sex is – it’s all about having sexual contact while preventing you and your sex partner from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Sex cannot be said to be safe if you there is an exchange of body fluids, vaginal fluids, semen, or blood. Unsafe sex exposes you and your partner to STDs such as gonorrhea, HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis, etc. Oral, vagina or anal sex with an STD infected person can transfer the virus to the uninfected partner, that’s why it’s imperative to have sex safer.
There are ways of practicing safe sex by seniors and young adults alike, but you need to be responsible all along, ways of having safe sex includes:
- Using a condom: – The use of condoms, internal condoms, dental dams anytime you are having vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex goes a long way in protecting you ND your partner against STIs. Condoms are made of various materials, latex, polyurethane, etc. It’s made up of various sizes and flavors. Choose the most suitable one for you. For Seniors, water-based lubricant is better as it lowers your chances of getting a cut or sore either on the penis or the vagina. Sores increase the chances of getting STIs.
- Get tested: – you and your partner should make sure you get tested regularly, most people don’t even know they are infected, this can be unknowingly passed onto their partners, especially people with multiple partners. If your result shows you are infected, your partner (previous or current) will also need to get tested and treated.
- Communicate: – with your sexual partner, ask about your health status, contraception, what you want to enjoy and how you want it. Be open to each other.
- Practice monogamous relationship: – if you and your sexual partner are both tested STD negative.
- Engage in sexual activities that doesn’t spread STDs: – sexual outercourse, masturbation, cuddling, ejaculating on unbroken skin, massaging, kissing etc.
- Shun Alcohol and Hard drugs: – as they may hinder you from making the right decision at the right time, prevent yourself from having sex that leads to regret.
What if you have engaged in unsafe sex? What should be done?
Let’s assume your condom breaks in the middle of the heat or you fail to use a condom, the risk of contracting STIs can still be minimized by
- Visiting sexual health clinics to get tested
- Taking emergency pills which can be about 85% successful within 24hrs after sex.
- Consider PEP (Post-exposure Prophylaxis) to prevent HIV.
Sex is a wonderful experience, irrespective of age; you need to practice it responsibly. Older Adults should not take safe-sex lightly, even after getting tested negative and you feel you have a clean state of health, don’t forget to ask your partners whether they are also healthy, whether they have been tested.