Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) In the "Not So Mutually Monogamous Menopausal Relationships"

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

Although the risk of conception disappears at menopause, the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases does not. Sex is a very important aspect in romance, but we sometimes can pay a tremendous price for unprotected sex if we are in “not so mutually monogamous relationships.”

Statistics tell us that women and men over the age of 50 can be quite sexually active, and some have multiple partners. Therefore, like their younger counterparts, some, acquire sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, STDs affect approximately 10 million women and men in the US each year (do you know how many are >50?). No one is immune, regardless of age.

Physicians frequently observe female patients plagued with STD’s such as herpes, acquired postmenopausally which are oftentimes exacerbated by atrophic changes that occur as a result of menopause. This can make therapy quite challenging. At least 20 STDs are now recognized in the US that include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital warts, genital herpes, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), AIDS and others. Several types of hepatitis can also be transmitted sexually.

Protection against STDs should be stepped up after menopause. Lowered estrogen levels at menopause may cause the vaginal tissue to become more susceptible to damage and tears from friction caused by intercourse with inadequate lubrication. These “breaks” in the vaginal tissue may enable STDs to invade the body more rapidly.

Many women experience changes in relationships which precipitate changing partners due to divorce or death of a spouse. Depending on the length of their relationship, these women may not have dated for many years when the risks of infection were less likely and the seriousness of the diseases less severe. These women must be aware of the risks of STDs and take adequate precautions against infectious agents.

The use of condoms is important when starting any new relationship. Continue to use a condom until your partner has been tested for HIV and you are certain that this relationship is mutually monogamous.

Are there signs that your partner has a sexually transmitted disease? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. In fact there are approximately 45 million people in the USA affected by herpes and only 10% of the people with the virus actually develop the lesions associated with this type of STD.

So be aware that even though your partner may look fine he may be shedding the herpes virus or another type STD like HPV (genital warts). There is not discharge from the penis with these diseases. STDs are typically spread silently from one partner to the other. Your partner may also be carrying gonorrhea and Chlamydia which may cause a mild discharge in a man. There are no warning signs that your partner has AIDS or hepatitis. These must be tested with a blood test. Syphilis, on the other hand, may cause ulcers to develop on the penis, but during different phases of the disease, there are no signs. So, in essence, there is no way for you to tell if your partner can infect you with an STD?

Symptoms of STDs

Some symptoms of STDs are not confined to the genital tract. They include:

Arthritic pain, bowel problems, chills, fevers, night sweats, jaundice, menstrual problems, constant weight loss, swollen glands, growths, feeling run down, mental disorders, and urine changes, just to name a few. if you have any of these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor, particularly if you are sexually active.

What do you do if you suspect that your partner has an STD?

Again remember that your partner may, or may not have any outward signs or symptoms. If you have any suspicions it is best to avoid sex until your partner has been adequately tested and treated.

Preventing STDs

The use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, especially used along with spermicide since spermicides may kill infectious agents. It is important to use condoms correctly. Use a new condom for each sexual act (vaginally, anally, or orally). Put a condom on after the penis is erect and squeeze the air out of the nipple to leave space for semen. Lubrication may be necessary, use only water-based lubricants. Use of other products, like Vaseline, may weaken the condom. When removing the condom, make sure the penis is still erect and hold the condom making sure it won’t slip off. If the condom breaks, make sure your partner withdraws and places on a new condom. Never, ever reuse the same condoms. Condoms do have expiration dates, be sure to check the date. Condoms are also available in different colors, textures, flavors, and sizes. They are highly effective in preventing STDs if used correctly.

Always remember to practice safe sex to avoid picking up a sexually transmitted disease or AIDS. Always use a latex condom And, choose your sexual partners wisely. It is safest to be in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is faithful, does not use IV drugs, and has been tested for STD’s. Before you turn on the heat of passion, discuss your partner’s sexual history and be aware of his health history. And, if you think you may have been exposed to someone with a STD, go to the doctor and request testing and treatment so you don’t pass on an STD to him.