A recent study by the University of Manchester found that over half (54%) of men and over a third (31%) of women over 70 said that they were still sexually active.
However we should remember that for this generation, sex education in schools was very limited and according to Professor Michael Reiss (Institute of Education, University of London), 'based largely on the reproductive habits of plants and non-human animals'.
Whilst human reproduction may no longer be shrouded in mystery for this generation, they may not be quite so alert to the issues and risks of sexually transmitted infections. Professor Reiss noted, ' The post-second World War advent of antibiotics meant that for decades a fear of sexually transmitted infections played only a minor role in the thinking behind most school sex education programmes'.
It is therefore perhaps not so surprising that we are now starting to see a rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) amongst older people. Since 2010 it has been the over 65s who have seen the biggest percentage increase in infection rates in all sexually transmitted infections, except syphilis.
With approximately 440,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England in 2014 over all age groups, we need to make sure this trend does not continue.
A lack of sexual health education targeted at the over 65s may be contributing to the issue. The current Public Health England marketing strategy has three broad life stages categories; Starting Well, Living Well and Ageing Well. Sexual health features firmly in the Living Well category and not in the Ageing Well one which focus on spotting signs of cancer and dementia. An Age UK poll of over 2,000 people revealed that over a quarter of people over 65 felt that they couldn't talk to their partner about sex and 69% had never sought sexual health advice.
With a lack of clear sexual health advice for the over 65s perhaps it's time we started talking about sex in the over 60s and ensuring that older people have the same access to sexual health testing and education as the younger generations.
We at Southdowns Private Healthcare, therefore suggest that when considering starting a new relationship, one should consider spending 15 minutes having a Sexual MOT for your own peace of mind and your partners safety.
Whatever your concerns we can help - just give us a call on 01243 388 712 or use our online booking system.
"A Brief History of Sex Education" (2005), Professor Michael Reiss, Institute of Education, University of London
"Sexual health and wellbeing among older men and and women in England" University of Manchester and the National Centre of Social Research