Divorce is common in our society. Most people who divorce say they are glad to get out of an unhappy or abusive marriage.
However, for some newly-divorced middle-aged women, more problems lay ahead. Some of these women may have functioned as a housewife and may have few friends or acquaintances.
Others may have limited finances or may be burdened with children and other problems. In such cases, these women are eager to find a new partner and gain a quality life they always dreamed about.
Now a study shows that these newly-divorced middle-aged women may be vulnerable to the contraction of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
The chief reason for this is that these women let their inhibitions down while searching for a new partner. In addition, many women avoid using protection as they feel they are unlikely to get pregnant.
There is also evidence that with aging, several physiological changes occur in the vaginal walls that make it more susceptible to acquiring infections like an STD.
The latest study by Christopher Coleman, Assistant Professor of Nursing at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, reveals that there is very little research on physiological changes during menopause and the acquisition of infections. (1)
While most young people read or discuss sexuality among their peers, this is not so with middle aged women. The lack of information is primarily because these individuals feel that they are immune to sexual infections.
Unfortunately, the majority of educational campaigns designed to help prevent sexually transmitted infections are aimed towards younger people.
Physicians admit that when it comes to middle-aged and elderly women, there is usually no communication about sexual behavior. These women rarely discuss the need for a condom and leave the decision to the partner.
Results show that middle-aged women are aware of the risks of infections but yet feel uncomfortable about seeking sexual information from their health care providers.
These studies emphasize that health care providers need to discuss sexual issues with people of all ages. It is the responsibility of these professionals to help women develop more confidence in discussing these serious health issues.
In many European countries, social marketing campaigns have already started to educate women of all ages about the risks of sex. (2)
If women want to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, they need to take ownership of their body and negotiate safe sex with their partner. If this is not an option for the partner, then sex should be avoided.
1. A Lonely Heart Can Make You Sick: Middle Aged Divorced Women Vulnerable to Contracting HIV
2. Older Women Lack Important Information About Sexual Health
Reviewed February 6, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jessica Obert