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STDs on the Rise Among the Elderly

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STDs on the Rise Among Seniors

Earlier this week I talked about teenagers not being honest with their doctors about their sexual behaviors.  However, another epidemic is striking the U.S., as the rate of STDs is on steep incline for senior citizens.  That’s right, 50 to 90-year-old individuals have experienced double the rate of STDs in the past decade, and experts want to know why so they can help to stem the problem.  First, about 80% of seniors are sexually active, despite stereotypes that the libido dies after 50.  Furthermore, the baby boomers are coming of age, and many of these same individuals ushered in the sexual revolution in the 60s and 70s.  Finally, erectile dysfunction drugs may also be partially to blame–seniors may be taking advantage of their resurrected “abilities” without taking the proper precautions for safe sex because there is not longer the fear of pregnancy.

Michael Douglas: Throat Cancer was Really Tongue Cancer

Unfortunately, actor Michael Douglas is an example of a senior citizen who contracted an STD that nearly cost him his life.  In June, the actor revealed in a salacious interview with The UK newspaper, The Guardian, that his so-called “throat cancer” was actually tongue cancer caused by oral sex and the HPV virus.  Although he also cited his excessive drinking and smoking as potential culprits for his cancer, HPV is a serious illness that can spread through oral sex.  There are more than 40 types of the Human Papilloma Virus, all of which can potentially lead to cancer and can affect individuals regardless of whether the sex is homo or heterosexual.  Fortunately, individuals affected by the types of cancers usually caused by HPV have high survival rates.

Say Yes to Safe Sex!

So what can we learn from the recent statistics on senior citizens and STDs, and the story of Michael Douglas?  Say yes to safe sex!  While your actively reproductive years may be well past, you’re still putting yourself at risk by engaging in unprotected sex with partners.  Make sure to be open and honest with your doctor about your current and past sexual history, even if you find it extremely embarrassing.  Nothing could be worse than losing your life to cancer, or at the very least suffering the consequences of a painful, irritating or embarrassing STD that will put you out of commission for the long-run.