Boomers & Sex: The Facts About STDs

STDs are on the rise for people 50+, so if you think you can't get a sexually transmitted disease, think again.

By Joan Price

Quiz question: Single, sexually active Boomers and seniors should use condoms:

  • ___ A. Never—we can’t get pregnant.
  • ___ B. If our partner tells us he/she has an STD.
  • ___ C. Always.
  • ___ D. I don’t want to think about this.

If you answered A, B or D, you're wrong! The correct answer is C. “Always”. Before you shake your head in disbelief, here's why:

Online dating and medications like Viagra have been a boon to the 50+ community over the past several years. People over 50 are more social than ever and more are having sex!  That's the good news. But with this change come issues. People over 50 are getting STDs more than ever before. Incidences of syphilis and chlamydia in adults aged 45 to 64 tripled between 2000 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In areas heavily populated by retirees, the STD rates are even more dramatic.  

Just because we’re older and our bodies aren't in the phase of getting pregnant doesn’t excuse Boomers from the need to protect our sexual health. We’re not immune to STDs, nor are we resistant to them. In fact, post-menopausal women are more vulnerable to STDs than younger women. 

Preventative Steps

What can you do to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases if you're not in a long-term monogamous relationship? 

If you're dating someone new, you can always ask them about their sexual health. Yes, it's sometimes difficult to bring up the topic, but it's worth talking about. However, the person might not even know if they have an STD. According to the CDC, an estimated 20 to 25 percent of HIV-positive people are not aware they are infected.

The best thing to do if you're single and sexually active? Just what the quiz question above suggested: Use condoms. A study conducted by Indiana University and published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at the sexual habits of 5,865 people from 14 to 94. It revealed that 91 percent of men over 50 did not use a condom when they had sex with a date or casual acquaintance, and 70 percent didn’t use condoms with a sex partner they had just met.

Although women may be more careful than men, a University of Chicago survey of single women ages 58 to 93 found that almost 60 percent didn't use a condom the last time they had sex. But a condom, whether it's a traditional male condom, or a female condom is the only real protection. 

As Debra Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and a member of the faculty at the Kinsey Institute advises: Just say, “No glove, no love!” 

Ageless sexuality advocate Joan Price is the author of Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex and Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty. Visit Joan’s zesty, award-winning blog about sex and aging, where she continues to talk out loud about Boomer/senior sex, partnered or solo. Naked at Our Age won Outstanding Self-Help Book 2012 from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Best Book 2012 from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.


I am proud of my self no sickness on 2013-05-29 14:38:15

SSEA, this article addresses "Single, sexually active Boomers and seniors" -- people who are lucky enough to be in a loving, monogamous relationship are not the point of this article. I'm not talking about what "should" be -- I'm talking about what "is."

As Cindersoot said so well, many of us have lost our partners through death, divorce, or a medical condition that sweeps away the former bonding. Many of us are either regretfully or happily single. My aim is to drive home that we're responsible for our own sexual health, and here's what we can do about it.

I look forward to reading more comments from readers.

Joan Price

Joan Price on 2013-05-28 12:31:51

I think it was a wonderful article. The over 50 individuals also need to be informed . I admit that I have never seen or have any info on the female condom! Well done and very informative.
so, SSEA, monogamy you say is the answer ?
You must have been one of the lucky one who's husband/partner did not die or get divorced after 30 years or doesn't recognize you because they are in a facility for Alzheimer's disease.
The society we live in today is a throwaway one and with this so called attitude as you say, the younger generation will know and understand on not only how to keep their lives STD free, but also to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
With the power that women have today, more are staying single as they do not need a man to keep a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food on the table.

What was it...? oh yeah...
Quiz question: Single, sexually active Boomers and seniors should use condoms?
Single, sexually active Boomers and seniors being the key words.
This has nothing to do with monogamy or the younger generation but has everything to do with
This was a very good article and I do hope other women/men also learnt something as well as I did. Your comment has actually nothing to do with this informative article.

cindersoot on 2013-05-28 11:55:56

How very sad that this article doesn't even mention the obvious and best way to avoid getting an STD. How about monogamy? With this kind of attitude, little wonder the younger generation knows little about faithfulness and loyalty.

SSEA on 2013-05-28 09:59:34

Compatibility Horoscope

How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?

Find out here.