Older Women Aren't Immune to STD's
Older Women Are More Sexually Active
There are not a lot of statistics available for older women; however data collected by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health shows that among women ages 60 to 94, 34 percent of married women and four percent of non-married women report having had sexual activity in the past three months. The end result of the findings is that these activities have made some unsuspecting women more susceptible to getting an STD - especially HIV, the precursor to AIDS.
"Lots of times the assumption is that women in older age groups aren't sexually active, or that they are in a stable long-term partnership with lower risk," says Dr. Divya |Patel, the study's lead author and a researcher in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan. "In the past, you didn't consider people who are 70 or 80 having sex. Now more couples are able to have intercourse over a longer period of time, due to drugs like Viagra and Cialis, so sexuality is extended into later parts of life, or in some couples it has returned. The main thing to note is that women in the older age group do engage in these behaviours that increase their risk of STDs."
Increase in Diagnosis of HIV/AIDs Amongst Older Women
In fact, in 2005, 15 percent of all new HIV diagnosis was among men and women over the age of 50, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control. Data is limited on other STDs in the older population since STD testing is not routinely performed - even though older women do get them.
The causes for the rise in STDs in older women are biological, cultural and socially related. Older people re-entering the dating pool, whether through divorce or death of a partner, places them at risk. Many women become sexually active with a new partner later in life and her past cultural experiences may not encourage her to make choices that will avoid contracting an STD. Most HIV/AIDS and STD awareness is targeted to younger age groups, so these older women did not get the information in school or from their doctors. Again, cultural/sociological boundaries often make "the talk" with new partners taboo and they're also less likely to use a condom.
Still Needing Protection
After menopause, childbearing is no longer an issue, and the likelihood of discussing the use of protection, like condoms, is slim. On top of it all, physical changes that come with age, the natural thinning of the vaginal wall and reduced lubrication make vaginal tearing more frequent, and the subsequent contraction of an STD more inevitable.