Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Let's Talk About Sex
Both young and old find that sex can be difficult to discuss with their health care providers. In fact, only 38 percent of men and 22 percent of women have discussed their sex life with their health care provider after reaching the age of 50. Many times, the discussions revolved around medications to help with low sex drive and erectile dysfunction. But the little secret nobody wants to discuss are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), even though they are on the rise and are largely preventable when found.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis have all increased over the last five years. Unfortunately most of these cases go undiagnosed and unreported. The CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new STIs occur every year, half of which are occurring among young people ages 15-24.
STIs can be transmitted through any type of sexual activity - oral, anal and vaginal. Condoms can reduce the risk of STIs if used correctly and used every time you have sex. Another way to decrease your risk of STIs is limiting the number of sexual partners you have. Unfortunately many STIs do not have any symptoms, which means that you can have an STI without knowing it. So getting tested is very important.
Talk with your doctor about getting tested for STIs. They will help you schedule how often you should be tested depending on your level of risk. Also speak to them about preventing STIs by using a barrier during sex. Both male and female condoms are available free of charge at the VA pharmacy with a prescription from your Primary Care Provider (PCP). You can also get condoms sent to you through the mail and use your MyHealtheVet account to refill your order. Please remember that lambskin condoms do not protect you from getting an STI and that birth control pills only protect against pregnancy, not against STIs. If you are diagnosed with an STI, you and your partner should both be treated at the same time, and sustain from sexual activity until given the ok by your PCP.
For more information, visit this link.