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Sexually Transmitted Diseases–Are You at Risk?

April was STD Awareness month, but since having sex isn’t confined to April and sexually transmitted diseases can be passed on at any day in the year, I want to share my recent article with you.

Sexually Transmitted Disease in Older Adults–Are You at Risk?

If you are dating and/or, in a relationship that is not monogamous (or suspect that your partner is having an affair) then you are at risk for a sexually transmitted disease, or infection.


STD Awareness Month

If you’re thinking that sexually transmitted diseases/infections are for the young, you’d be wrong. STD/STIs can affect anyone of any age and any sexual orientation. April is STD Awareness month and the CDC and The Office of Women’s Health want you to get the facts and practice safe sex.

When we talk sexually transmitted infections we’re talking genital herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and HIV. And the CDC says that 20 million people are infected with a STI every year. If you’re single or in a non-monogamous relationship you need to be particularly alert to this and know how to protect yourself.

Unfortunately most of the available information is geared to teens and young women. There are few articles written specifically for older women. There are no real differences in approach, rather the overall message has traditionally focused on young adults.  Our susceptibility to STIs is not based on age but on our sexual practices and sexual partners.

What can you do to decrease your risks of contracting a STI/STD?

  • The first thing you should do is get tested. And, according to the office of Women’s Health, ” Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, taking steps to protect yourself is easier than ever. Most insurers must cover STI screening, counseling, and vaccination services at no cost to you, even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible.”
  • Use condoms. Condoms for men, dental dams for women can stop the spread of most sexually transmitted infections. Herpes is an exception because lesions might not be on areas covered by the condom.  It’s best to refrain from sexual contact during times when the virus is active. (Herpes fact sheet below)
  • Talk to your partners. Communication is important when you’re in a new relationship or when one or both partners are not monogamous. If you can’t imagine talking to a partner or lover about protection ask yourself if you’re really ready for sex with this person. I’ve shared a couple of links below that might help you start the conversation.

Protecting yourself from a sexually transmitted disease is important. Getting a blood test should become a routine part of your sexual health practices.  Talk to loved ones about the need for testing. Have a single parent in a nursing home? Ask staff if they are testing patients and have done any education for staff on STDs. Talk to your friends, and your sons and daughters about this–or at least direct them to helpful information.

This is serious stuff. Have the conversation–with your partner and your doctor. Get Tested!

Have you had experience with asking a new partner to get tested? Are you up-to-date on information about STDs and how to get tested?


This article was first published on my website, Walker Thornton

Walker Thornton

We are delighted to have Walker Thornton as our Women’s Sexual Health columnist. After working for over 10 years in the field of sexual violence against women, Walker is now enjoying a new career as a freelance writer, public speaker, and sex educator with an emphasis on midlife women. Her blog, was ranked #5 by in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2014. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter For questions about sexual health, write her at

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Lisa Froman

Monday 19th of May 2014

This is a very important topic. Many middle aged people having sex are divorced after long marriages and are not thinking about these realities. It's important to keep this information out there; thanks for being an advocate Walker!

Walker Thornton

Tuesday 20th of May 2014

Thank you Lisa. I encountered this issue as I began dating in my late 40's and found many men who felt there was no need for testing. I won't continue in a relationship with any man who issn't going to be sensitive to a) my wishes and b) 'our' sexual health.

Carol Cassara

Monday 19th of May 2014

I spent 12 years volunteering in an organization serving HIV+ and People With Aids. This is a conversation we MUST have with potential partners.

Walker Thornton

Tuesday 20th of May 2014


Walker Thornton

Monday 19th of May 2014

Thanks Roz. It's important information for older adults as well as young people.

Roz Warren

Monday 19th of May 2014

Great advice.

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