STIs don’t care about greying hair and a few wrinkles

Guest Blogger Pat  Craig investigates the rise in Sexually Transmitted Infections in the over 50s.

Woman at PartyDid you wear flares, a bandana, go- go white boots or miniskirts? If so, you were probably witness to one of the most significant changes ever.

In 1961, the Pill became available on the NHS, and changed our sexual behaviour radically. Suddenly we could endorse ‘free love’, freed of the crippling anxiety over unplanned  parenthood which surrounded more traditional methods of contraception.

However, there was a price to be paid and it’s with us now.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the 50+s have more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Almost 13,000 men and women over the age of 45 were diagnosed with an STI in 2009, double the numbers in 2000.  Chlamydia has risen by 95% in 9 years. Calls to the Family Planning Association (FPA) helpline, from older people worried about their sexual behaviour and STIs, have shot up by 30% in just three years.

Over 50s, single again, are dating using websites, dating nights and holidays as a chance to have sex and relationships. Add to this Viagra, which has extended the active sex life of many older men, and you have a ticking time bomb.

Many over 50s, relieved that contraception is no longer an issue, forget about the need for safe sex and condoms. If they were in a long-term relationship they may not have thought about them for years, far less bought them.

While the younger generation tend to think of STIs dispassionately, older people are more likely to feel embarrassed and fearful, or remembering the stigma of Venereal Disease (VD) are less likely to seek help or information. Add to this that most sexual health campaigns and clinics are aimed at younger people and you can understand their reluctance to seek advice.

The FPA launched the country’s first ever campaign for the over 50s a year ago. They have also made available a free booklet: ‘People over 50: Relationships and sexual health’ which is available on line, on the helpline number or at any of their centres.

The FPA endorses the positive and fulfilling sexuality of the over 50s but also wants to get the message over that STIs don’t care about greying hair and a few wrinkles. If you are having unprotected sex an STI will find you attractive whatever your age.

So, if you are over 50 having or thinking about having sex with a new or different partner(s) make sure you have a sexual health check first.

The telephone number of your local clinic is in phone book

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