We’re not quite sure who invented the rules of social interaction, but for some reason it’s as though once you hit your 50s and beyond, the world no longer views you as a sexual being. As a kid, imagining your parents doing the deed is shudder-inducing, but as we ourselves age and find ourselves becoming parents too, you realise just how important sexual wellness is, not only for things like self-esteem and anxiety, but for the strength of our relationships too.
For the most part then, the idea of STIs conjures images of teenagers running amuck, or that scene from Mean Girls were the flippant PE teacher warns, “Don’t have sex, or you will get an STI and die.” It’s surprising then, that a recent study has revealed STIs aren’t so much on the rise in young Australians, but rather among older women. National records between 2000 and 2018 of STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis are growing at a faster rate, particularly among women aged between 55 and 74.
But what’s the reason behind such an increase? Are older Aussies simply getting their mojo back, or is that they have no regard for their sexual health? In an interview with Body and Soul, Louise Bourchier, a PhD student at the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health, said she believes it’s because older women pay less attention to their sexual health.
Bourchier, per AAP, said: “There is an assumption that older adults are not sexually active or people might be thinking they might be sexually active with a long-term partner, and they’re not thinking about new partners.”
Whether it’s because older adults don’t perceive themselves to be at risk of STIs and are therefore not taking the necessary precautions to stop the spread of them is something the study couldn’t qualify. Other reasons could be that post-menopausal women might be less concerned with condoms as they don’t have unplanned pregnancy to worry about, or it might just be a generational attitude as the Pill comes to signify a new frontier of sexual freedom.
“The baby boomer generation came of age with access to the contraceptive pill and before the HIV crisis of the 1980s so it was a period of relative sexual liberalism,” said Bourchier. “It’s likely that those people are taking those attitudes into their older years.”
Well, there you have it. Older people are still having sex, and seemingly aren’t doing so in a safe manner either.