“Hey Grandpa, don’t forget to use a condom!”
Do those words make you cringe? As the Canadian population continues to age and live longer, the reality is that many seniors (adults around the age of 65) will be enjoying their later years with a new take on sexual activity. With the new introduction of drugs such as Viagra as well as a trend of late-marriage divorce, sexual activity is no longer the domain of the young — older adults will be looking at starting new sexual relationships. Sexually Transmitted Infections have been around for a long-time, probably from the beginning of time, yet many older Canadians are not aware of the risks of unprotected sex. They think that because there is no risk of pregnancy then there is no need to where a barrier type of contraception such as a female or male condom. However without using protection many “seniors” are exposing themselves to a multitude of diseases including Syphilis, Herpes, and HIV. In fact women who have undergone menopause are at a greater risk of contracting HIV do to the change in hormones that leads to “drier vaginas and thinner vaginal walls – both the natural results of menopause – which can lead to small lesions through which HIV can gain entry.” As the rules change surrounding sexuality, we must acknowledge that there is a new group at risk. It also means that there will be a need to outreach to older Canadians in ways that are informative and educational. There will also be an increase of older Canadians whom “come out” to their family and friends as they feel increasingly comfortable in identifying their sexuality. Aging does not mean that your sexual desire ends. In fact it may mean that you are more comfortable than ever expressing who you really are and have confidence in yourself. Older Canadians need to be educated about the risks that affect anyone who is sexually active – young or old.