STD cases in older adults increased over the past 10 years, a finding that did not surprise experts.
About 80 percent of adults between the ages of 50 and 90 are sexually active, and some common STDs have more than doubled in this age group, according to a report published Thursday in the Student British Medical Journal.
One reason experts weren't surprised was that older people are in better shape than ever and can have more active lives - including sex lives - thanks to advances in medication that can treat problems such as erectile dysfunction in men.
I think there are a lot of myths that exist about older adults and their sexuality and we know that sexuality doesn't change just because they're getting older, Sharon Brangman, chairman of the board of directors of the American Geriatrics Society, said. There's no reason to think that just because someone is older they might stop having sex.
Sheila Rasimowicz, a lawyer and spokeswoman for the National Association of Baby Boomers, wasn't surprised either.
I can see why there would be an increase in STDS, Rasimowicz, 61, said. I'm sure we are having more sex that our parents were.
Access to cosmetic enhancements and procedures may also contribute to this issue among what Rasimowicz refers to as the over 50 communities. Such tricks, she noted, are no longer restricted to the rich and famous.
If we find ourselves single again we can still feel and look attractive to the opposite sex, she said.
Brangman said that now the task at hand is to improve sex education for the older population and doctors, a topic usually reserved for young people.
Brangman pointed out STD symptoms that could be misdiagnosed simply because some doctors and nurses cannot fathom the idea of an older person having sex. Symptoms that could signal a potential STD include stomach pain, difficulty urinating, discharge from the urethra or penis, fevers that don't make sense, and rashes that may not be explained. She said it goes against the ideas of healthful aging to give up a safe practice from one's youth.
I think that we're all in the same boat in terms of classifying older people and what they do, Brangman said. Most people just don't imagine that this is happening.