Baby Boomers and Safe Sex
With more Australians living longer and healthier lives, and divorce rates on the rise, many will find new sexual partners later in life. Some of those who have been in long, monogamous relationships are now looking for more casual sexual encounters before they commit themselves again.
The availability of drugs like Viagra has given many men, who had given up any hope of being sexual again, new opportunities. Also, looking for love online has become extremely popular these days. It used to be a secret, but these days nobody minds admitting to it. Online dating is not only for the young, many baby boomers are also turning to the internet to find romance as they find themselves single again.
Women who are now at a different stage in their life are quite happy being single for a while. The children may have left home and it is now time for them to have some fun. However, a long period of sexual monogamy has left them ill-informed about safe-sex practice. Most women were on the pill and never, ever used a condom, and they missed out on the safe sex messages that were promoted in the 1980s.
Education campaigns about safe sex are generally aimed at young people, and there is still an element of ageist stereotyping in our community that makes it difficult for some to believe older people still have sex. But the latest figures from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System show that STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, have risen, particularly among older age groups. The safe sex message seems to have missed the baby boomer generation.
Some years ago, Family Planning NSW and the dating site RSVP launched a safe-sex awareness campaign for older Australians called the ‘Little Black Dress’. The message was all about communication and the importance of being upfront when talking about safe sex with a new partner.
People should have an honest discussion with a new partner about using a condom, before being swept away in the heat of the moment. They may not have been very sexually active themselves but their new partners may have been.
Over recent years I have spoken to an increasing number of men and women who needed advice on how to start a new relationship after the break-up of their marriages or long-term relationships. I was shocked how many of them had never considered safe sex; they still believed that a condom was only needed to prevent pregnancies.
Nothing is more embarrassing for a baby boomer, after having had sex with several new partners, than being told by a GP that he or she has an STI. The best rule to follow is ‘no condom, no sex’ until both partners are tested.
It can be difficult to negotiate the use of a condom with a new partner, but he or she may be concerned about the same thing. Discussing the topic could be a great icebreaker while you still have your clothes on.