“OK, truthful we cognize you're not going to get pregnant.”
Sexuality pedagogue Jane Fleishman, PhD, typically opens with this enactment erstwhile she goes into elder communities to speech astir safe sex. It’s her mode of trying to interruption the hostility and wide the air. Sex talk tin beryllium awkward astatine immoderate age, whether you’re 15 oregon 50-plus.
Then she brings retired the puppets. But these aren’t the benignant you spot astatine a children’s puppet show. They’re made successful the signifier of antheral and pistillate enactment organs – a vulva and a penis. That usually breaks the crystal and gets a laugh.
“But past I say, ‘This is existent stuff. You don't privation to get an corruption from idiosyncratic else,’ ” says Fleishman, who got her grade successful quality sexuality studies portion successful her 60s.
There’s a existent request for this benignant of acquisition among radical who are older, she says. To commencement with, intersexual intimacy does not extremity erstwhile a idiosyncratic receives their AARP card.
About three-quarters of adults 65 to 80 hold that enactment is an important portion of a romanticist relationship, careless of age, according to a 2018 survey from the University of Michigan. And much than fractional of those successful romanticist relationships reported being sexually active. Men successful this radical were astir 4 times much apt than women to beryllium “extremely interested” oregon “very interested” successful sex.
Another caller survey recovered that 43% of women ages 50 to 80 were sexually progressive successful the past year. And 62% were satisfied with their intersexual activity. Only astir 28% said menopause-related symptoms interfered with their quality to beryllium sexually active.
Fleishman wants to marque definite that those adults – galore of whom whitethorn beryllium widowed oregon divorced and dating idiosyncratic caller – are approaching enactment safely, truthful she starts with the basics. “I speech astir mouth to anus, rima to vulva, mouth to penis, penis to vulva, penis to anus,” she says. “I truly effort to beryllium arsenic blunt arsenic I perchance tin be.”
Just arsenic importantly, she discusses the request for consent and connection successful a intersexual relationship. “The concern of consent is taught to teenagers and to assemblage students now,” she says. “But nobody's teaching older adults astir it.”
Finding the Gaps
Older adults are acold little apt to get sexually transmitted infections (STIs), compared to different big property groups. Still, corruption rates are going up astatine an alarming rate, experts say. Between 2009 and 2019, successful radical 55 and older, STIs – including hepatitis C, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea – accrued by 4 to 5 times, according to the CDC.
Part of the occupation is simply a deficiency of knowledge. When researchers tested STI consciousness successful adults 65 and older with a questionnaire, they recovered plentifulness of gaps. “On average, older adults lone correctly answered astir 12 of the 27 items, which means they did not cognize facts astir STI risk, presentation, transmission, oregon treatment,” says Matthew Lee Smith, PhD, who led the probe astatine Texas A&M’s School of Public Health.
Health care professionals tin supply adjuvant acquisition and guidance, but lone to radical who are unfastened and honorable astir their enactment lives. That’s happening much present than it has successful the past, says Nicole Williams, MD, of the Gynecology Institute of Chicago. But often, the speech happens excessively precocious with her older patients. They’re conscionable not arsenic consenting to speech astir sex.
“They're not disquieted astir pregnancy. They're conscionable having unprotected enactment and past coming to maine and asking for testing,” she says. “I find that problematic due to the fact that they're getting exposed to HPV, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and different sexually related infections.”
Cornelius Jamison, MD, makes it a constituent to bring up enactment with his patients successful his household medicine signifier successful Michigan. He does his champion to marque the speech comfy and easy, but adjacent still, older patients often person occupation speaking openly astir it, says Jamison, an adjunct prof successful the Department of Family Medicine astatine the University of Michigan.
“It volition beryllium similar the past happening astatine the extremity of the visit, wherever they'll say, ‘Oh, and by the way, Doc, I was wondering, is it imaginable to get Viagra, Cialis? I've seen that they work, and I'm having immoderate issues.’”
Jamison says helium wishes much doctors would inquire astir enactment during modular carnal exams, nary substance what the property of the person. “The tendency to person enactment ne'er truly goes away,” helium says. “Sometimes providers aren't reasoning astir that.”
Let’s Talk About (Safe) Sex
Gynecologist Barb DePree, MD, has noticed a large spike successful dating among women 50 and up. Dating apps that zero successful connected definite property groups could beryllium 1 crushed for that, says DePree, manager of women's health astatine Holland Hospital successful Holland, MI. And the numbers carnivore that out. Nearly 20% of adults ages 50 to 64 study utilizing dating apps oregon sites, according to Pew Research. While that’s not arsenic precocious arsenic the adjacent property radical down (38% for ages 30-49) it’s inactive a batch of online activity.
Whatever the reason, this spike successful dating could bash overmuch to explicate the rising fig of STI cases successful this older set. In addition, DePree says, galore older adults don’t look arsenic accepting of condoms arsenic younger people.
But extortion is inactive important astatine each property erstwhile there’s a anticipation of an STI. Where the penis is involved, that typically means a condom. For women, successful particular, the vulva and vaginal tissues bladed with property and could beryllium much susceptible to infections specified arsenic quality papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, says DePree.
As women age, vaginal dryness is common, and DePree says astir volition payment from a lubricant. But wherever condoms are involved, DePree has a tip: While silicone lubricant is simply a fashionable prime for postmenopausal women, it doesn’t brace good with condoms.
“Most condoms volition beryllium somewhat degraded with a silicone lube,” she says. Use a water-based lubricant instead.
But condoms won’t ever help. Oral-to-genital transmission is besides imaginable for STIs specified arsenic herpes and HPV, arsenic good arsenic successful different types of sex. Ask your doc astir ways to support against STIs erstwhile a condom isn’t possible.
Keeping It Fun
Fun starts with being comfy with your partner. And getting comfy often starts with a conversation.
“Talk astir erstwhile STIs, speech astir intersexual partners, speech astir whether oregon not you privation to usage condoms, whether oregon not you consciousness comfy doing definite positions,” says Jamison from the University of Michigan.
“If someone's had a hip replacement, past possibly this is not the presumption to do.”
And, importantly, get tested for STIs, says Williams. “I connection that to each 1 of my patients, nary substance however aged they are.”
Safe enactment education, astatine each stages of life, tends to see lone the cautions. Fleishman, the enactment educator, says it’s important to speech astir the joys and pleasures arsenic well.
Many adults successful their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond observe a accidental for renewal, excitement, and liberation successful their enactment lives. After all, says Fleishman, “There’s nary expiration day connected pleasure.”