Sex Therapist Deb Laino Offers Tips in Response to Increased STD Rates Among Older Adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have significantly increased, most notably in adults over the age of 40. Sex therapist and expert Deb Laino says there are many factors contributing to the rise in STDs in older adults, including less people getting screened and using condoms, which are proven to prevent illnesses such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.

“It’s a common misperception that only young people are at high risk of contracting STDs, but truly anyone who does not practice safe condom use and regular testing are at risk—and we’re seeing this occur in many older adults,” Laino said.

In 2019, Syphilis cases increased by 23 percent among adults 55 and older. Most recent statistics also revealed that adults aged 45-54 had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea compared to other age groups, and the rate of HIV diagnoses increased by 4 percent among adults aged 55-64 between 2015-2019. However, recent studies indicate the numbers could be far higher in adults as they are less likely to be screened for STDs, or to talk to their doctors about their sexual activity or concerns.

Laino said in addition to open and honest conversations with their partners, there are several things older adults can do to stay sexually active and healthy:

  1. Discuss with your doctor: It's important to be honest and direct with your healthcare provider about your sexual history and discuss your risks for contracting STDs. Remember, healthcare providers are trained professionals who are there to help you, so don't be afraid to ask questions.
  2. Use preventive measures: If you are sexually active, using condoms such as Trojan Bare Skin Raw consistently and correctly can greatly reduce your risk of STDs.
  3. Consider regular testing: It's generally recommended that sexually active adults get tested for STDs at least once a year, regardless of age. However, your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent testing based on your individual risk factors.
  4. Changes to the vaginal and urethral tissues that occur with aging can also increase the risk of contracting some STDs, particularly for women. Using a lubricant such as H2O Sensitive Touch during sexual activity can help reduce the risk of tears in the vagina and the possibility of STD transmission.

“Regardless of age, the use of condoms or lubricants, having honest conversations with your doctor, and regular STD testing can drastically decrease the risk of transmission,” Laino said.