Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Middle aged and divorced? You may want to remember the basics of safer sex


Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing recently released a study which suggests that women who are middle aged and divorced may need to be more careful when it comes to sexual behavior.

According to the study, women in this demographic tend to forgo condom use when engaging in sexual activity with new partners, as pregnancy is not a concern. Unfortunately, this behavior has the potential to lead to sexually transmitted disease (STD) infection.

Moreover, women who are peri- or postmenopausal experience hormonal changes that result in a thinning of the skin in the vaginal wall, making it more susceptible to tearing during intercourse and, therefore, transmission of STDs, including HIV. These physiological changes may also affect treatment for infections or viruses, as medications to reduce menopause symptoms sometimes interfere with STD drugs.

"There is a knowledge gap with women knowing what the physiological changes associated with menopause are," said Christopher Coleman, Ph.D. "There is very little research on this subject and society and the government don't talk about it, but these high risk sexual behaviors need to be addressed because the rate of HIV positive middle aged women is increasing."

A TIME article reported on this issue in 2008, stating that the advent of Viagra and a higher prevalence of divorce and online dating websites may also be to blame for the increase in STD rates among middle aged people – a trend which has been going on since the mid-1990s.

The news source stated that the number of cases of chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and genital warts in people older than 45 spiked 127 percent from 1996 to 2003.