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In today’s day and age—with more open attitudes toward sexuality, better health among older adults, internet dating, and the availability of medications like Viagra—many older adults are remaining sexually active. Unfortunately, older people are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than younger adults. For older people, it’s of the utmost importance to make sure you’re practicing safe sex. Here are 4 tips on having and enjoying safe sex, no matter what your age.
Do a background check
Know your partner’s sexual background before having oral, vaginal, or anal sex. All types of sex can spread STDs. Talk about your sexual histories, and tell each other whether you’ve ever been tested for STDs, what the results were, and whether you’ve ever injected illegal drugs. HIV/AIDS can also be spread via shared hypodermic needles, though the most common risk factor for older women is sex with an infected man.
Consider getting tested first
The best way to protect yourself and your partner is for the two of you to get tested for HIV and other STDs before you start having sex. STDs don’t always cause obvious symptoms. And some symptoms of STDs or HIV, such as fatigue, can be mistaken for age-related health problems.
Use a condom and lubricant
Use a condom and lubricant every time you have sex until you know your partner’s sexual history and are in a sexually exclusive relationship. Water-based lubricants such as K-Y Jelly are important because they can lower the chances of getting a sore or tiny cut on the penis or inside the vagina. These sores and cuts can increase the risk of getting STDs.
Talk to your healthcare provider
Your healthcare provider can offer additional advice about protecting yourself from STDs. They can also recommend treatments for common sexual problems such as vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction (ED).
There are effective treatments for vaginal dryness, which range from over-the-counter moisturizers and lubricants to estrogen creams, tablets, and rings that you insert vaginally.
Though ED is more common with age, it isn’t an inevitable part of growing older. Rather, it’s often due to underlying medical or emotional problems such as heart disease or diabetes, medication side effects, or anxiety. Because ED may be the first sign of an underlying medical condition, it’s particularly important to talk to your healthcare provider if you experience this problem.
Last Updated October 2015