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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Sexuality and Physical Changes With Aging - Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted infections-also known as STIs or venereal diseases-are infections passed from person to person through sexual intercourse, genital contact, or contact with semen, vaginal fluids, or blood.

Older people may think of STIs as a problem that affects only young people. But because of physical changes related to age, older adults who are exposed to STIs may be more likely than young people to get STIs.

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As you age, your immune system is not as strong, so it's harder to fight off disease. And women who are past menopause have thinner vaginal walls and less vaginal moisture than they did before menopause. Using a lubricant, such as K-Y Jelly, may keep you from getting a sore or a tiny cut on your penis or inside your vagina. This can reduce your risk of getting STIs or HIV.

Practice safer sex. For older adults, this means always using condoms and lubricants until you are in a monogamous relationship and know your partner's sexual history and HIV status.

STIs can affect anyone, no matter what his or her age. Talk openly with your partner about STIs, and take whatever precautions are needed to protect yourself before you engage in any form of sexual contact. If you think you may have an STI, see your doctor.

For more information, see:

  • Safer Sex.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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