All about STI in the elderly

Moving towards the older age makes an individual move away from social interactions, limiting the workload and responsibilities. This shift sometimes results in the exclusion of the elderly from the bonds of human relationships. Hence arises a newly developed need for intimacy. This yearning for intimacy has resulted in increasing sexual interactions which are practised without adequate knowledge about necessary precautions. This has resulted in a visible increase in STI cases in older individuals.

According to a report by NCBI, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention notes that STIs have doubled in the past 10 years among US adults aged 65 and older. There has been a notable increase in the cases of Syphilis with 91 cases being observed in 2007 to 349 cases in 2017. A similar trend of increase in cases can be seen in infections like Chlamydia and gonorrhoea. 


Do you wonder why there is a sudden increase in several older people getting contacted by STIs?

 The reason stems from the association of taboo with the subject of sexual intercourse. There is a stigma attached to the subject of older individuals engaging in sexual intercourse. The stigma creates a boundary of insecurity around people which prevents them from seeking help when they come across symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. 

There is also a tendency among older individuals to underestimate the risk of such diseases due to pseudo-scientific statements circulated to them through social networks. 

Further, the lack of sex education available for the older age group creates a situation of lack of awareness about necessary precautions. 


Individuals, irrespective of their age, should be able to engage in sexual intercourse. To have a healthy sex life, it’s crucial to take necessary precautions. These precautions enable individuals, especially people above the age of 65, to prevent contracting STIs. 


Condoms act as a tool to prevent the spread of STIs. However, according to a report by NCBI, Existing empirical evidence on condom use shows that awareness of and association of condom use with the prevention of infections do not imply the proper and efficient use of a condom. Other factors, such as stigma, shame, and the feelings that the use of a condom can reduce sexual pleasures can influence older people’s disposition to condom use.” Hence, it’s crucial to eradicate the social barriers and make condoms not only physically, but socially acceptable too. Condoms are important to prevent STIs in the elderly as it serves as an accessible tool which is easy to use and does not harm an individual’s biological or hormonal cycles.  


Mutual monogamy suggests that individuals engaging in sexual intercourse should be sexually active with only one person. Such exclusivity allows the prevention of STIs. 


It’s crucial for individuals engaging in intercourse to have information about the biological well-being of each other’s bodies. Regular checkups create a sense of assurance among the partners. The transparency and confidence gained from such medical visits also have a positive impact on the overall intimate lives of the couple. 


The usage of latex condoms and water-based lubricants helps in the prevention of STIs. 


Washing your body, especially the reproductive parts is crucial to prevent any infection. Washing before and after intercourse is important for individuals engaging in sexual activity.


In case of contracting these infections, or when there is a possibility of contracting them, paying visits to the doctor is important. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that these can be treated by antibiotics. However, it’s also important for your sexual partners to get treated within 60 days. If untreated, Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease.


The rising cases of STIs in the elderly raises the need for adequate public education on the topic of sexually transmitted infections. Society must step in and actively eradicate the taboo to normalize sex in the elderly. This will allow them to seek help from the healthcare system when needed. Older couples should always look out for symptoms relating to STIs to initiate the treatment as soon as possible. Prevention and education regarding increasing cases of STI are needed in public institutions. Academically, the paucity of research on the topic should be dealt with adequately to initiate further conversations.


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