However as this article states, menopausal and premenopausal women need to be aware of the risk of sexually transmitted infections, even if they don't view pregnancy as a risk. Additionally, women with vaginal atrophy may be at a higher risk of STIs because of the increased potential for small cuts and tears.
Another place that demonstrates the need for sex education and dispensing of condoms is nursing homes. For a lot of the reasons above, women and men in nursing homes need to be aware of safe sex, especially since aging bodies are often weaker than younger bodies.
I never thought about the need for sex education in these communities before, but lately, my divorced mother is starting to go on dates. In talking with her, I found out that she's only used oral hormone contraceptives in her life - STIs weren't as big of a concern when she was younger. Doing my daughterly duty, I told her about the importance of communication between partners, talking about sexual histories and getting tested, and using barrier protection. Then we decided that I'll give her "the talk" on her wedding night (preferably at the bar) and she's never giving me "the talk" because I'm never getting married.
Here's what the North American Menopause Society suggests all sexually active people do (good for anyone in sexual relationships, in my opinion):
- Choose partners selectively.
- Discuss sexual history with a partner; don’t let embarrassment compromise health.
- Always insist that a male partner use a latex condom for genital, oral, and anal sex, unless you are in a long-standing, mutually monogamous relationship. Never use petroleum-based products (Vaseline, baby oil) to lubricate condoms because they can damage the condom, potentially causing a leak).
- Keep medically fit and have a regular physical exam, including a Pap test and other tests to identify sexually transmitted infections if you are at risk. If exposed to an STI, or after a confirmed diagnosis, urge partner(s) to be examined and treated. Do not resume sexual activity until you and your partner are cleared of infection or, in the case of STIs that cannot be cured (such as herpes), until proper methods for optimal protection are understood and used.
Comprehensive sex education must be taught to youth because this is lifelong knowledge - it's not going to stop being important and useful once you get out of high school or college or if you get married. Safe sex isn't just for teenagers - it's for everyone.