SAFE SEX FOR SENIORS

DorrieJacobson5 copy

The way people are aging has changed drastically in the last few decades. Today’s seniors are living longer, healthier lives and as a result are maintaining an emotional and physical interest in sex much longer than previous generations. Potent little pills like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra have changed the game by enabling men to perform sexually well into their 80s and 90s. At the same time, medical advancements have also impacted the way older women are approaching their post-menopausal sexual health as well. Progesterone and Estrogen creams, along with a variety of other products designed to alleviate many of the post-menopausal issues that have previously interfered with female arousal, now make sex more comfortable and enjoyable for mature women. So we now find ourselves in relatively unchartered territory where seniors are sexually active in a way that is relatively new to our social landscape. It’s exciting, but also brings about quite a few new challenges, specifically, how to make sure that we remain sexually healthy.

Many seniors are now actively dating online. As a result, they know very little about their partner’s sexual history and have no experience with practicing safe sex. Our children and grandchildren have been through explicit sex education classes in school, however many women from older generations grew up thinking that girls could get pregnant from sitting on unwashed toilet seats, and that condoms were used to protect soldiers from getting diseases from ”ladies of the evening.” Therefore it’s natural that the idea that we need to be wary of catching an STD from another respectable senior, probably never crossed our minds before.

If we’re honest, most seniors are a bit behind the times when it comes to knowing which sexual activities can cause problems and why the use of condoms, and regular testing for STDs is so important. It’s just not something we generally talk about, so let’s talk about it now. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) often have little or no symptoms and therefore you, or your partners, may be totally unaware that you are carrying a transmittable disease.  Since we do not perceive ourselves at risk, very few sexually active seniors go for testing, and by the time they realize there is a problem, there can be serious consequences to our health.

So what is an STD?  My generation referred to them as “Venereal Diseases” or VD. We knew about Gonorrhea and Syphilis, but now there are more than twenty different known STDs including the viral infections that can cause HIV, so it’s important that sexually active adults be aware of this and educate themselves. This is not meant to scare the sexy feelings out of you, so please stop and take a breath. The good news is that STDs are treatable. It’s not a reason to forgo sex completely, however it is important to be aware of the risks and simply practice safe sex. How do you do that?

Firstly that means taking responsibility for your own sexual health by getting tested. If you have private insurance you can get tested by your personal gynecologist. Another, less expensive option, is to use your local free health clinic. STD screenings are completely free at your local women’s health center. Women go to these clinics for many reasons other than STD screenings, so you don’t have to feel embarrassed about going or being seen there. Give them a call to discuss the process. It’s a basic exam and nothing to be apprehensive about, I promise!

So what else can be done to maintain a safe, healthy sex life as we age? Educate yourself about STDs and have a frank discussion with potential partners about it before becoming intimate. It’s essential to ask them to get tested before entering into a sexual relationship. Just so you know, that’s what all of the smart kids do. Yes, it may seem embarrassing the first time you broach the subject, but here are the hard facts: Seniors have the highest percentage of STDs out of any age group. Why? Because they don’t understand the importance of practicing safe sex. So make a joke….and get it over with. If a man gets offended, he simply needs to be educated. Explain that many symptoms are invisible and that you are protecting HIM by getting tested and would simply appreciate the same courtesy. Otherwise you cannot be intimate. This conversation happens thousands of times every day around the world….think of it as simply another way of joining the youth generation.

Meanwhile, a condom should be used for every sexual encounter when the STD status of the person you are sleeping with is unknown. If you don’t know how to use a condom, look it up on YouTube and practice on a banana. I’m serious. Practice makes perfect. Let’s be honest, sex can be a little silly and awkward at times, so we may as well adopt a sense of humor about it and have a laugh that this is the way the world is now. There’s nothing sexier than a lady who can laugh in bed. So be that lady. The last thing I want to do is scare any of you into celibacy, but we need to be smart in this brave new world of ours….and let’s maintain a healthy sense of humor while we’re at it!

~ Dorrie

Senior Style Bible

For More Information on Sexual Health and STDS:

http://seniorplanet.org/safe-sex-for-seniors-the-facts-no-ones-giving-you/

http://safersex4seniors.org

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/opinion/sunday/emanuel-sex-and-the-single-senior.html?_r=0

http://www.disruptivewomen.net/2015/04/27/the-single-senior-std-epidemic/