Menopausal women re-entering the dating world often skip using a condom because they are no longer at risk of pregnancy. However, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) do not discriminate against age! If sexually transmitted infections are not promptly treated, they can lead to more serious and long-lasting disorders, also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
STDs can be passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sexual contact, as well as genital touching. People tend to think they would know if they have an STD- when actually, a large percentage of people with STDs are asymptomatic! Although there is a stigma surrounding STDs, STDs are actually incredibly common regardless of age. The annual incidence of STDs in 2018 was 68 million cases, with rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis rising. Untreated STDs can lead to chronic health problems such as pelvic pain, lesions, warts, certain types of cancer, or chronic infection. It can only take one unprotected encounter to lead to an STD.
What are your top risks?
- New sex partner in the last 60 days
- Meeting anonymous partners on the internet
- Multiple sex partners or a sex partner with multiple concurrent sex partners
- Sex with sex partners recently treated for a sexually transmitted infection
- No or inconsistent condom use outside a mutually monogamous sexual partnership
- Trading sex for money or drugs
- Sexual contact (oral, anal, penile, or vaginal) with sex workers
Specific to menopausal women, the thinning of vaginal tissue and decreased lubrication can put women at increased risk for microscopic injuries during intercourse, making it easier for pathogens to enter the body. As we age, our immune system weakens, making it harder for our bodies to fight off infections. So although pregnancy risk is null, the risk of getting an STI from unprotected sex is very much real!
To prevent STDs, using condoms is the gold standard. It is also important to minimize behavioral risks and complete STD screening regularly. Prompt detection and treatment can lessen the impact of the STD on yourself and reduce the spread to others.
Your provider can order testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas, herpes, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, and HPV. If you want to skip the trip to the office, confidential STD testing is now easy without a provider appointment. You can self-order testing without a doctor’s visit online at mymenopauserx.com