The end of menopause signals that a woman is no longer capable of reproducing. Because women can no longer get pregnant many of them stop using condoms when they have sex. This can cause many women to get sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). STDs rates are on the rise in the portion of society that is middle-aged. Part of this is because society constantly reinforces to younger people the importance of using protection, but this message is often not spread to older women. Many women also experience vaginal dryness during sex, which is not an STD, but rather a symptom of menopause.
The Great Liberation
Postmenopausal women and older adults in general usually have sex on a regular basis. Sex is fun, liberating, and feels good, which is the reason why so many of us do it so often. Research shows that 80% of adults between 50 and 90 have sex. The idea that middle aged people don't have sex or only have one sex partner is not true. It's fairly common to have more than one sex partner during this time frame. In fact, older adults make up the fastest growing segment of the population using online dating.
STDs: the Invisible Killers
Some STDs may not show symptoms right away, or some may have symptoms that are not directly associated with STDs. It is important for older people to talk to their doctor about whether or not they are sexually active and use protection with their doctor. This can help their doctor accurately diagnose any symptoms that they have. Many doctors do not think that older adults are at risk for getting STDs, which means they make mistakes in diagnosing, and then the patient does not get the correct treatment.
Infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, syphilis, HPV and HIV all affect older adults and their spread could be reduced by using proper protection. In fact, 20% of people who have contracted HIV are over 50, and this number is on the rise. HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest health endemics of our time. Using protection and educating ourselves about safe sex can prevent its spread.
If you have had unprotected sex, even with just one partner, it is imperative to get tested for STDs. Early detection will allow you to receive treatment and tell other sex partners about the infection you have so you can get tested too.
You can greatly lower your risk for contracting STDs by:
- Using a condom and putting the condom on before any genital contact begins.
- Getting regularly tested for STDs.
- Talking opening with current and future sex partners about STDs.
- Telling your doctor you are sexually active so he or she can more accurately diagnose any condition you may have.
Using condoms and trying to break down the taboos about talking about sex and STDs can go a long way to prevent the spread of disease. It is important to see a doctor if you have symptoms that may signal an STD. One of the most common symptoms menopausal women experience is vaginal dryness, which is not an STD but rather the result of lower estrogen levels in the body. Click to learn more about vaginal dryness treatments.