In an editorial in the Student British Medical Journal, Rachel von Simson, final year medical student, and Dr. Ranjababu Kulasegaram, King's College London and Thomas' Hospital, London, said research has found that in England, from 2000 to 2009, diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections in those age 45 and older doubled to almost 13,000 cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found there were 706 diagnoses of infectious syphilis among U.S. adults ages 45-54 and 179 in those ages 55-64 in 2000, but by 2010 it rose to 2,056 and 493, respectively. For the STD Chlamydia, there were 5,601 diagnoses in adults ages 45-54, and 1,110 in adults ages 55-64 in 2000, but by 2010 this had risen to 16,106 and 3,523, respectively, von Simson said.
In Canada, from 1997 to 2007, cases of gonorrhea among adults aged 40-59 increased from 379 to 1,502, Chlamydia cases increased from 997 to 3,387 and infectious syphilis from 34 to 527 cases.
The reason behind the increase in STDs is unknown, but earlier studies showed most aging baby boomers are sexually active.
However, the researchers said older women are more vulnerable to the infectious diseases because decreased lubrication leaves women more vulnerable to minor microabrasions that facilitate the entry of pathogens. In addition, vaginal pH gets higher with age, and a higher vaginal pH has been associated with an increased risk of contracting Chlamydia and gonorrhea, the researchers said.