Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

STD rates rise among retirees

It's a common misconception that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes, only affect the younger population. In fact, healthcare officials are reporting more diagnoses in retirees as the rates of STDs in the U.S. continue to soar.

Anyone who has sex is a candidate for a STD

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that older adults who are sexually active are just as likely to acquire a STD as younger individuals. They may even be at an increased risk if they find new partners after a divorce or death of a spouse. In addition, older women often have age-related vaginal thinning and dryness, which could cause tears in tissues and increase their chance of contracting HIV.

The Toledo Blade reports that in central Florida, where many retired couples migrate during the winter to avoid cold weather, health officials observed a 71 percent rise in cases of syphilis and chlamydia in 2011. Some theories behind this jump include the use of drugs that improve erectile dysfunction, as well as the behaviors of members of the baby boomer generation, who may be reliving the sexual freedom they experienced 40 years ago. In addition, since postmenopausal women don't have to worry about becoming pregnant, they may be less inclined to practice safe sex.

"The gay male population got the message of using protection," Mary Jay, a disease intervention specialist at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, told the news source. "Because some gay men lost loved ones to HIV-related deaths, they have been compelled to use protection. But culturally, [the infection] has not taken the same toll in the heterosexual population. The message [to practice safe sex] didn't permeate as much into the heterosexual community."

Safe sex education should target all age groups

When it comes to HIV, some older individuals are less knowledgeable about the virus, as compared to those of the younger population, the CDC reports. In fact, a study revealed that nearly 60 percent of older single women reported having sex without a condom within the past 10 years. This indicates the need to educate all generations on the importance of practicing safe sex.