Women Older Than 50 Years Aware of Sexual Health Risks

But most are hesitant in seeking sexual health information from their consulting physicians

THURSDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Sexually active women over the age of 50 years are aware of the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), but are hesitant to consult their physicians for health information, according to a study published online Sept. 14 in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.

Cynthia R. Morton, Ph.D., from the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues investigated the knowledge of and behavior related to sexual health risk among women aged 50 years and older. The recruiting criteria for the study included being age 50 years or older, single or unmarried, actively dating, and sexually active in the past 12 months. A complete discussion guide was developed, consisting of 20 questions related to the study's research questions. A total of 27 volunteers were recruited into four focus groups between March and July 2008.

The investigators found that the women reported having a more positive sense of self compared to when they were younger. All the participants were aware of the risk of contracting an STD and the severity of consequences while negotiating the dating landscape. The majority of participants showed low efficacy in discussing condom use with their partners for fear of rejection or conflict. Most women were found to be hesitant in seeking sexual health information from their primary care physician who in turn may believe that these patients were already informed.

"The findings of this study show a critical need for improving communication between women over 50 and their physicians," the authors write.

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