Feb. 2, 2012 -- The rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) has more than doubled among middle-aged adults and the elderly over the last decade, but the reasons for this are unclear.
One cause may be the increased popularity of erectile dysfunction drugs that have made sex possible for millions of aging men.
Or it could be the determination of baby boomers, who ushered in the sexual revolution, to stay sexually active as they age.
Or it might be the low rate of condom use among older couples, who no longer worry about pregnancy and may not think they are at risk for STDs.
The contribution of any or all of these factors to the rising STD rate in this age group is not clear, experts say, because very few researchers have studied the issue.
“If you want to know about sexually transmitted infections in teens and younger adults, there are plenty of studies to look at, but there is almost nothing to tell us why rates are increasing among older adults,” says Rachel von Simson of King’s College London, who co-wrote an editorial published in the journal Student BMJ.