Every April is STD Awareness Month, an opportunity to educate people everywhere about sexual health and sexually transmitted diseases. STDs can have a big impact on our lives, but the stigma around them can cause a routine health issue to become a much bigger problem.
Next month, leading expert on STDs Dr. Shannon Dowler, Chief Medical Officer of North Carolina Medicaid, will be publishing the first book dedicated to educating a a long-forgotten group — senior citizens.
Dr. Dowler has been using her platform for years to educate seniors in a judgment-free and humor-filled manner. Her latest book, published in February with Johns Hopkins Press, is dedicated to this population. Never Too Late: Your Guide to Sex After 60 is one of the first books devoted to educating seniors about safe sex, sexual health, and sexually transmitted diseases.
"For so many adults in their 60s and beyond, the last time they had a 'sex ed' class was a long time ago, and so much has changed in the world of sexual health. Many older adults remain sexually active well into their retirement but do not even recognize the names of many common sexually transmitted infections," Dr. Dowler told The Advocate Channel.
As May is Sex Ed for All month, Dr. Dowler wants to remind everyone that your sex life doesn’t end with retirement — nor does the need for safe sex practices. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, the rates of STDs among Americans over the age of 65 have doubled from 2017 to 2022. That’s something to be concerned about, Dr. Dowler says.
“There’s not much worse than informing a gleeful senior who has rediscovered romance that they now have herpes. A thriving sex life later in life doesn’t have to end in infection," she continues.
According to studies by the CDC, about 20 percent of sexually active Americans have an STD, and STDs cost the US health care system roughly $16 billion. Robust sexual health education is important for all groups of people to ensure a safe and healthy population.
Talking about sexual health and STDs can be uncomfortable with anyone, but it’s important we move past any awkwardness and figure out ways to broach the subject with partners and loved ones. People will always have sex, and they deserve accurate and updated medical information to protect themselves and their partners — and maximize their fun.
“In a world filled with dating apps, pharmaceuticals to enhance sexual function, and historical rates of group living in amazing retirement destinations, there has never been a better time to get up to date on your sex ed with humor and relatable stories everyone can enjoy," Dr. Dowler says.
For more tips on sex after sixty, check out Dr. Dowler's latest book here.