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Why the sil­ver se­duc­ers need safe-sex lessons

The over-50s should be taught safe sex to combat soaring STIs in later life, experts have suggested.

Rising divorce rates, the emergence of Viagra, dating apps and the growth of retirement villages have combined to mean sexual risk-taking is now common among older adults.

Rates of disease including gonorrhoea and syphilis have surged by almost a fifth in just four years among baby boomers.

Experts said this was probably an underestimate because embarrassment and lack of access to sexual health services mean many will not seek help.

Sex education must become ‘normalised’ for older generations, they say, rather than simply focusing on the young.

Justyna Kowalska, of the Medical University of Warsaw, said: ‘People do not become asexual with age. In fact, with preventive medicine and improved lifestyles, people are enjoying a healthy life and sex life for longer. Older people often find greater satisfaction in their sex lives due to experience and known expectations.

‘We need more role models like Samantha Jones in the TV show Sex and the City to challenge stereotypes.’

In England, 37,692 new STIs were recorded in the over-45s in 2019 compared with 31,902 in 2015 – an increase of 18 per cent.

Half of men and almost a third of women aged 70 and over in England reported being sexually active in a survey.

In a similar Swedish study 46 per cent of over-60s reported being sexually active and one in ten aged 90-plus. But for many, a lack of sex education at school, combined with no risk of pregnancy, can heighten risky behaviour.

Presenting her findings at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona, Professor Kowalska suggested that sex education should be tailored to the over-50s. She added: ‘Health promotion messages give the impression that condoms and concerns about STIs only apply to young people.

‘But the dangers of undiagnosed and untreated STIs such as HPV- related cancers and onwards transmission are very real, particularly in this age group.’


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