According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors in America are enjoying are enjoying more active sex lives. Some attribute the rise in sexual activity among the elderly to advances in prescription drugs or basic medical treatments. Whatever the cause, Americans today are living longer and healthier lives. As sexual activity becomes more prevalent in seniors, so too do STDs, however checking for STDs in seniors is rarely a concern of doctors.
Since 2010, the CDC has reported significant increases in chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea. Chlamydia showed a 52% increase in persons over the age of 65. Syphilis showed a 65% increase. Gonorrhea had an astonishing 90% increase in cases. Medical professionals have cited numerous reasons for these increases. One such reason is an increase in divorced people in older age groups. In 2014, people over the age of 65 were twice as likely to get divorced than people of the same age in the 1990s. This has created a larger pool of people dating in their senior years.
This group of people also grew into sexual activity at a time when birth control pills were accepted and condoms were not taught as the preferred form of contraception. Additionally, sex education as a whole has changed drastically since the 1950s which has allowed for common misconceptions about sexual health among older generations. In 2010, it was found by the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States, or SIECUS, that senior adults had the lowest rate of condom usage compared to all other age groups.
Several studies have found that people in older generations still feel that society does not expect seniors to engage in sexual activity. A survey published by the New England Journal of Medicine found that many older people did not discuss sex with their doctors. In fact, only 22% of female patients and only 38% of male patients claimed to have discussed their sexual activity with their physicians. It was also found that most doctors do not routinely ask patients over 50 about the frequency of their sexual activity.
There is also the growing amount of senior living communities throughout the country. Some of the largest case rates for STDs exist on college campuses where students live primarily in dormitories. Senior living communities are much like college dorms in that many single and socially active people of the same age group are living together in close quarters. Areas in the country with larger senior living communities, such as parts of Arizona and Florida, have reported higher rates of STDs in seniors. The main difference between a college dorm and a senior living community though is that on college campuses condoms are readily handed out to students for free by various groups. This does not happen in senior living communities.
Lastly, a major contributor to the increase of sexually transmitted diseases in the elderly is access to medication that aids in sexual function. Medications such as Viagra have allowed people to remain sexually active longer in life than they were able to in the past. When you combine these medications with one or all of the other factors named, it is easy to see why STDs are on the rise in this group of people.
Seniors are not only at an increased risk of curable STDs such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea. These same circumstances also make them susceptible to viral infections such as genital herpes, hepatitis or HIV.


1 Huffington Post – Sex and Seniors: STDs A New Reality for the Elderly
2 WebMD – Sex and the Elderly: STD Risk Often Ignored
3 Psychology Today – Baby Boomers Gone Wild! Seniors and STDs
4 Berkeley Wellness – Seniors, Sex and STDs