Health · Sex & Sexuality

Sex and the Single Woman Over 40

A study from the United Kingdom shows that the number of 40- and 50-somethings diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease last year was double the number in 2000.

 

Then, of course, there is the role that alcohol plays in poor judgment.  After the four or five drinks that many women drink on festive Friday and Saturday nights, it is no wonder that condom use is not in their inebriated brain.

There are many women who do ask a new partner about past sexually transmitted diseases and insist that both of them get tested. But somewhere along the way they get convinced that testing is not necessary, since the guy “gives blood to the Red Cross, like every two months.” Honey, if all the men in New York City who claim to regularly give blood actually donated, the streets would be flooded with plasma.

And how many intelligent women fall for the line, “My doctor has tested me for everything. I have no diseases”?

Excuse me, did you ask to see the test results?

No test evidence, no sex without a condom.  It should be that simple.

I wasn’t born yesterday. I know most women do not carry condoms and don’t insist on condom use in a new or non-monogamous sexual relationship because they’re afraid the guy will be unhappy. They buy into his desire for the pleasure of sexual experiences “without a raincoat,” his aversion to  “taking a bath wearing socks.” The woman who doesn’t insist on condoms is there to please the guy in hopes of finding a new partner. She then can receive the gift of HPV, HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia or herpes, often without knowing she’s been infected until she’s tested by someone like me.

A study from the United Kingdom shows that the number of 40- and 50-somethings diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease last year was double the number in 2000.

Studies, even ones as dramatic as that, don’t knock common sense into people. But friends and health care professionals can strongly encourage women to begin habits that will decrease their risk of acquiring these diseases.

Doctors who care for women should always ask about sexual activity and share information about how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. In addition we should discuss sexually transmitted infection testing and perform these tests at an annual visit whenever appropriate.

Women can talk to each other about condom use. Buy condoms and carry them. Give condoms to our best friends who may just be dating again after a long marriage or relationship, and help them with the scripts they need to perfect before they agree to an intimate encounter. “I never have sex without a condom until I know that I am not going to be get some  infection.”  “Never” means, “It’s not you, it’s always this way.”  This tells the guy that this woman is likely to be a safer partner than women who just acquiesce to any determined condom-evader.

Let’s learn to say, or teach friends we care about to say: “If we decide to have a monogamous relationship, we can go to a doctor together to be tested. When we have the results, then we can decide about condoms.”

Magical thinking about unprotected sex is risky business. Keeping you safe is my mission.  Sexually transmitted diseases are not romantic. Don’t let anyone convince you or someone you love that sex without condoms is.

Repeat after me: “No glove, no love.” Now say it like you mean it.

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  • Joan Price April 19, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    “Consistent and correct use of male latex condoms….” Let’s not forget the FC2, a receptive condom, aka “female condom,” which is an excellent alternative for vaginal and anal protection. And it doesn’t depend on an erect penis or a penis-owner’s decision. See http://betterthanieverexpected.blogspot.com/2013/01/fc2-new-female-concom.html. Good points in this article, especially the resounding declaration of not having sex without a condom.

    Reply
  • hillsmom April 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Very well written Dr. Pat. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…the statistics are appalling.

    Reply
    • Toni Myers April 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Just when I thought we older women were safe!

      Reply