When I taught sex ed, workshops were almost always designed for college students and young adults. You would think that people stopped asking questions about their bodies the minute they turned 25!

In reality, this is far from the case. Safe sex for older adults is a real issue. A recently divorced friend of mine summed up the struggle. “I was with the same man for decades.” She explained. “So much of the information has changed since I was dating. I’ve been googling like crazy trying to figure it all out again.”

She’s not alone. Misunderstandings about sexual health can cause huge problems for older singles, and information about safe sex is not nearly as available for older adults. As you seek a healthy, happy dating life, it’s important to be aware of the common myths surrounding safe sex for older adults.

Myth #1: If I’m not worried about pregnancy, I don’t need a condom.

If you’re post-menopausal or have had a vasectomy, you might think you’re safe to have unprotected sex. Not so fast. STIs are still an issue for older adults; in fact, as of 2012 STI rates in 50 to 90 year olds had doubled since the early 1990s. This trend can be attributed to more sexual activity (thanks in part to erectile dysfunction treatments), a lack of education, and deteriorating immunity in older adults.

When it comes to STIs, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Unless you and your partner have both recently been given a clean bill of health from a physician, condom use is a good idea.

Myth #2: If I am in/was in a monogamous relationship, I don’t need to be tested for STIs

Actually, it is advised that everyone undergo an annual STI check regardless of relationship status. There is always the risk of infidelity in a relationship. Additionally, many STIs (like chlamydia and gonorrhea) can show no symptoms in longtime carriers. You could have contracted the infection years before meeting your monogamous partner and have no idea!

Myth #3: If I’m not gay, I’m not at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS.

Contrary to popular belief, HIV/AIDS does not just affect gay males. Hetrosexual relations, blood transfusions, and needle use can all transmit HIV.

HIV certainly doesn’t discriminate by age; in fact, 42% of Americans living with diagnosed HIV were 50 years of age and older as of 2014. To make matters worse, 40% of older adults were not diagnosed with the HIV virus until its later stages. Without early intervention, HIV can quickly become AIDS. This takes away many options to manage the infection and leads to earlier fatality from this deadly infection.

Additionally, this lack of knowledge and likelihood to test for HIV in adults over 50 mean someone could be carrying the virus without knowing it. This makes safe sex for older adults an even more important issue.

Sexual Health for Every Age

If you’re not worried about pregnancy and you have been monogamous your whole life, you might not want to get your doctor involved while pursuing a new relationship.

It’s tempting, but it’s not a good idea.

You want to be able to enjoy the sex you are having at every stage. By taking care of your health, you’ll be able to take full advantage of this chapter of your life.

At FullMast, we value your sexual health. While we do not conduct STI tests, we would be happy to help you with any issues related to erectile dysfunction and male performance. If you would like help in this area, please contact us online today or call 1-844-500-1177.

Written by Shauna Vert