Why STDs Have Doubled In The 25-45 Age Group

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We have a tendency during April’s STD Awareness Month to focus on youth. This is very important since most young people may learn about “the birds and the bees” but aren’t told everything. They go into their first sexual encounters just knowing the STDs can happen and not know how to prevent them. Many don’t know anything at all about them. While we need to inform them of what is out there and teach them safer sex practices, we also can’t ignore other age groups.When we get to older adults, middle age and up, we have a tendency to think the job is done. They’ve been in relationships and had sex, so how could they not know what to do. Recent studieshave shown that we are ignoring a group of individuals that needs to be addressed.  If half of those infected with an STD or STI are 15-24 year olds, it means the other half are people entering or well into middle age. The number of those infected in the 25-45 (and 45+) has doubled in the past decade. There are number of theories as to why this occurs.Men and women entering middle age find they are not always still in long term monogamous relationships. Divorce, death of a spouse, cheating and ethically opening up relationships take people out of the relative safe ground of long term relationships. Divorce or losing a spouse means being newly single and dating again. After being in a long-term relationship, many forget some of the important information they were told when they started out. There is also a chance, if they are of a certain age, that they never learned them to begin with. I’ve heard tales of the newly dating not using condoms if birth control is in use. Some are choosing not disclose their STDs to new partners then not using protection. At the same time, cheating spouses may not use protection then, in fear of their infidelity being revealed, do not reveal this to their spouse.People are also continuing to be more sexually active as they get older. With medication to help with erectile dysfunction, more men can be sexually active at an older age. This is wonderful for older women too! Older adults are finding they are enjoying sex more often as they get older. They also no longer think just because they’ve entered or past middle age they need to be content with failing libidos. The importance of satisfying sex at any age has helped people find new ways to jump start their sex drives and get past physical problems that arise with age.

Studies are finding that while people’s attitudes about sex may be changing as they get older, they are not finding it any easier to talk about it. Open communication is not always easy if you’ve lived most of your life in a culture that doesn’t want to talk openly about sex, much less STDs. Most of us in middle age (yes, I am firmly ensconced there) got the scary talk in middle school, along with the even more frightening slide show, but that was the last we talked about it. Other than sharing titillating stories with friends over drinks, we don’t have informative conversations about sex. We have our school based education and the talk from Mom and Dad before we become sexually active as teenagers but not later in our adult life. Who is there to have the safe sex talk for the 35+?

This makes it vitally important that we continue to educate ourselves about safer sex, even as we get older. It is not entirely in the realm of youth. During STD awareness month, groups should not only target schools, colleges and young “twentysomethings” but all ages. I’d like to think education is something we can hold people accountable for but sometimes they need the necessary tools to get informed. Someone who has not had sex with anyone other their original partner for most of their lives may not think to go out and find this information. Thankfully this age group is starting to become less ignored as the statics start to show their increased susceptibility to infection.

A great way to prevent the increase of infection is to promote the importance of talking openly and honestly about sex. I don’t mean in an erotic manner but in a “This is a part of life.” kind of way.  If we normalize sex and take away the embarrassment more people will be willing to talk about issues important to them. This would make older adults more open with their doctors or at least help them to ask questions when they need to. We also should be aware that changes in the body as we get older might increase the ability to contract STDs more easily. The importance of testing should include all age groups.

Safer sex practices are something we should all be comfortable talking about. Learning about the newest toy or how to experiment with new techniques is wonderful. I think it’s great that progressive sex shops and at-home parties are making this more accessible. Learning that sex is just as enjoyable with a condom and oral barriers is also very important. There are techniques to make oral sex safer while still remaining very sexy and pleasurable. You’re never too old to learn new tricks. And never too old to learn was to stay safe and healthy.

The CDCPlanned Parenthood and other organizations can help. Lets do what we can as a community to get these numbers down. Get the word out and if you or someone you know is sexually active in their later years, encourage them to get informed and get tested. Safer sex is sexy!

Technogeisha was initially just content to be a voyeur in a virtual world. To her surprise she found an amazing array of people who inspired her to open up personally, creatively and sexually. No longer the voyeur, she is now using a passion for writing and research to explore sexuality, psychology, sociology, science, education and culture. She writes and is Managing Editor for lifeontheswingset.com and has contributed to Sexis Social at edenfantasies.comsexlovejoy.com, and mindchaotica.com. She can be found on Facebook as Miko Technogeisha but mostly lives on Twitter as  @Technogeisha.