Sexual Health isn’t just for Young People. Written by Andrew Smith, sexual health promotion and HIV lead
As I start to head towards ‘the hill’ and peak over it, I have started to think about how sex might change for the 40 something and overs. My conclusion is this…. yes things might start to slow down, or not last for as long as they used to, and you might not be able to get in that acrobatic pose that you could 15 years ago but the reality is that many people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and older are still having fulfilling sex lives.
This month sees the launch of our newest sexual health promotion campaign that we are calling ‘Generation Sex’. The over 40’s are sometimes just as sexually active as 20 and 30 year olds, but aren’t always as comfortable talking about their sexual health.
We know that many people over 40 are starting new relationships. Online dating has become a fun, easy and socially acceptable way of meeting new partners. However, many people forget their sexual health when entering into these connections and condoms are often not even mentioned ... “well if pregnancy is not an issue why should I worry”?
Since 2011, sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) have risen steadily in over 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and although some of these are treatable and curable, some are with you for the rest of your life. Pregnancy might not be an issue for some people, but STI’s can seriously affect your sexual enjoyment. Most people over 30 will remember the HIV messages of the 80’s, which scared many into believing that HIV/AIDS was coming to get them. Over time, the memories of that campaign have faded and the urgency to use condoms has fallen by the wayside. The reality is this - HIV is still around 35 years on, and although it is a very different illness to that of 1984, with treatment and testing the best it has ever been, there is still no cure and new infections come from every age group and demographic in the community.
So, if you are starting a new relationship or have had new partners, and just want to check yourself out, you can visit our sexual health services. They are available to anyone, whatever your age, and provide free, confidential advice and information, as well as STI testing. You can also visit our website at www.letstalkaboutit.nhs.ukfor lots of advice, information and support.