You may have given little thought to the possibility of your parent contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) later in life. The reality is, this is a very common occurrence in individuals over 60, and the numbers are staggering when it comes to STD contraction at this age.
Stats provided by the CDC show that HIV infection is growing faster in individuals over 50 than in those under 40. The CDC also cites that as many as six new cases of STDs occur in every 10,000 men over the age of 40. This is an increase of as much as 50 percent since 1996.
The reasons that common sexually transmitted diseases are increasing in seniors varies across the board, but one thing is for certain, there is a need as a caregiver to be aware of its occurrence.
Causes And Reasons For Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases In Seniors
Seniors are more exposed to STDs as a result of poor education. Most specifically they aren’t knowledgeable about how they can contract HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. During the 80s and 90s when education about HIV was prevalent, most seniors were married and weren’t at risk of contracting the disease. Education on the topic was geared toward younger people, making seniors unaware of how unprotected sex can cause them to get HIV or another sexually transmitted disease.
Now, as seniors are single and ready to date again, many are finding themselves in a situation where they are having unprotected sex and contracting a realm of STDs. Drugs such as Viagra are helping seniors have an active sex life, and more are seeking out partners to enjoy their time with, making STDs a more common occurrence in older adults.
Because seniors are becoming savvier when it comes to dating, many don’t know the history or background of the person they are having sexual relationships with, making them more susceptible to contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Internet dating has made it easier for seniors to find a partner as they age. Combine this availability to meet a variety of partners and their unwillingness to wear protection during sex and STDs can increase significantly in seniors.
Often times men take the upper hand in a senior relationship with a woman and forgo safe sex as a result. Woman want to please their partner and will abide by their wishes when it comes to having unprotected sex with them, increasing the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases in this age group.
As a caregiver, you need to be aware that your parent may be sexually active with a partner and having unprotected sex that puts them at risk for many types of sexually transmitted diseases. Having the discussion with your parent may be difficult, but they may not be aware of the consequences of having unprotected sex when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases and needs your help.
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Care And Treatment For Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Seniors are not immune to contracting an STD, and many are having sex without considering the risks. They are not getting information on sexually transmitted diseases that are incurable or contracted orally from their caregiver or even their doctor.
Many believe that as a person ages they are no longer sexually active when this is simply not the case and as result common sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the older generation. Doctors often feel uncomfortable talking to a senior about STDs and frequently misdiagnose their symptoms as signs of aging.
Symptoms of STDs such as fatigue, weakness, and changes in memory are often considered by medical professionals to be a normal course of aging in a senior when in fact they are signs of an STD. In addition, many seniors may also be embarrassed to admit they are having sexual relations and have signs of a sexually transmitted disease, making it difficult to get the treatment they need to remain healthy.
Testing of common sexually transmitted disease in seniors needs to occur especially if your parent is sexually active with a partner. Leaving this unaddressed can create a situation where your parent is passing the disease to other partners without warning. The use of safe sex should be a priority for seniors and education on common sexually transmitted diseases needs to happen to help them understand the risks associated with STDs.
Types Of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Seniors are at risk of contracting many of different types of STDs whether it be from oral sex or intercourse. Some of the more common sexually transmitted diseases in seniors can include:
Herpes Simplex Virus
This is an incurable sexually transmitted disease that can cause blisters or bumps on the face, mouth or genital area. This STD cannot be cured, and once an individual has herpes, they will have it for life. Passing of herpes from one person to another can happen regardless if the person has symptoms of the disease and it can be transmitted through sexual contact or as an oral sexually transmitted disease. Individuals that have herpes may experience burning, itching or redness and have painful lesions. It is most common in females but can be passed from partner to partner without warning or symptoms of the disease present.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in individuals of all ages. It may have no symptoms and can be passed to a partner without knowing that the individual even has the disease. Symptoms of chlamydia can come without warning and may not be present in an individual for a long time. Women that have contracted chlamydia will have pain when urinating, itching around the vagina, and abdominal pain. Men with the disease will also experience swelling of the testicles. Sex for both partners can be painful with chlamydia. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat chlamydia, allowing symptoms to clear up in as little as two weeks.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease that is most common in men. It can be transmitted to women as well as and most affects the genital area, although, gonorrhea can develop in the mouth, throat, anus, eyes and joints. This STD can be passed orally, vaginally or anally. It most often has symptoms of a rash on the genital area and can be transmitted just through the touch of the affected area. The disease is curable by a doctor but can be contracted again if proper protection during sex doesn’t occur.
Chlamydia is also a bacterial sexually transmitted disease that is often times passed without the person knowing they are affected. It can be passed orally, anally, or vaginally. It can cause a rash or sores with symptoms not always being present in an infected individual. According to the CDC cases of chlamydia have doubled since 2005 and 2013. The rash or ulcers that are common with chlamydia most often occurs on the mouth or genitals at its first onset. It will move to the hands or feet with time and can develop into a later stage progression of no symptoms at all. If left untreated Chlamydia can affect the heart, brain, and nerves, causing blindness, deafness, dementia or even death.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Another common sexually transmitted disease in seniors is Human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV causes warts on the genital area and can cause cancer. Some individuals do not show signs of HPV while other may have warts that itch, bleed or spread. According to the to the CDC at least 50 percent of people will experience HPV infection at some time in their life. Warts can also be present in the mouth or throat from oral sex and treatment of the STD provides no cure. Some medications can alleviate the symptoms, and warts themselves can be frozen off or surgically removed. If left untreated by a doctor a person can develop cancer of the cervix, penis or rectum.
If you suspect that your parent is sexually active, care should be taken to discuss the potential of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. While this can be an uncomfortable subject to broach, leaving your parent at risk of contracting an STD can be detrimental to their health. They may not know they have an STD and may be passing it their partner if they are having unprotected sex. Be sure your parent is aware of the risks of unprotected sex and how sexually transmitted diseases can be contracted.