The 7 Most Common STDs that Middle-aged Men Catch

STDSIt’s a simple fact of life that men are far less likely to catch a sexually transmitted disease (STD), after the age of 45. The other simple fact of life is that men are much less likely to have sex on a regular basis once they reach those middle years, hence the lower risk level.

Even so, a few middle-aged guys, and older, buck the trend, and bully for them. But despite this, there’s an alarming trend that’s not commonly known about the more active oldie:

STDs have Doubled within the 45-65 Age Group

The rate of STDS caught by men of middle-age, has more than doubled over the past 10 years, that’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So fellas, you might want to remember this; just because you’re not a teenager anymore does not mean you can’t catch an STD, especially if your sexual appetites are vigorous and voracious. Here is the down and dirty on the seven most common sexually transmitted diseases that men are catching in the twenty-first century.

  1. Chlamydia
  2. Gonorrhea
  3. Syphilis
  4. Herpes
  5. Trichomoniasis
  6. HPV
  7. HIV

Okay, so let’s look at each on of these individually:

1. Chlamydia – Street name: ‘The Silent Disease’

ChlamydiaChlamydia is a bacterial infection and one that older men usually acquire from younger partners. In women, Chlamydia can cause serious problems, especially ectopic pregnancy (implantation of the fertilized egg into the ovaries or other tissues outside the uterus).

In younger men the infection might just cause some urethral itching or no symptoms at all. In men over 45, however, catching Chlamydia can result in swollen lymph glands that can cause bulging ball sacs. The infection usually causes pain on just one side of the scrotum.

About 20% of all men and 40% of women that are infected with Chlamydia are also infected with gonorrhea (see below).

2. Gonorrhea – Street name: ‘The Clap’

GonorrheaGonorrhea is a more serious bacterial infection that causes “clap,” a pus-filled discharge from the penis, and usually just one swollen testicle, that causes pain to radiate backwards toward the anus. Men are less likely to catch gonorrhea than their female partners.

Women are more likely to be asymptomatic–until they get pregnant, at which time gonorrhea can cause life-threatening infections similar to those caused by chlamydia (see above).

Gonorrhea can spread anywhere mucous membranes come in contact. The disease can take hold on the tip of the penis, along the lining of the urethra of the penis (especially when there is retrograde ejaculation, semen flowing backwards instead of forwards), in the prostate, in the sperm-making channels of the testicles, and in the mouth, throat, and rectal tract.

The most common occurrence before infection is a broken condom. The warmer and damper the climate, epidemiologists tell us, the more likely you are to catch gonorrhea. It’s rare in Alaska but quite common in Florida and countries with tropical or sub tropical climates.

3. Syphilis – Street name: ‘The Great Imitator’

SyphilisSyphilis is an infectious disease caused by a microorganism known as a spirochete. This bacteria-like microbe forms a hardened spiral that can literally bore into the linings of your urethra or the glans (tip) of your penis. About 90 days after exposure, it spreads through the body.

Immune reactions to syphilis can cause a variety of symptoms that give syphilis the name ‘the great impostor’. It can cause arthritis, dementia, and small (less that 5 mm/0.2 inch across), lesions all over the body, especially the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. The disease can be treated with penicillin, although more and more strains are becoming antibiotic-resistant over time.

You are most likely to acquire syphilis during rough sex, sometimes even if you do use a condom. Microscopic abrasions provide easy entry for the microbe. Systemic symptoms of syphilis may not appear for up to 25 years after catching the disease.

It is believed that the English King, Henry VIII, died from syphilis on 28 January 1547, although this has never been officially confirmed.

4. Herpes – Street Name: ‘Virus Volcanoes’

HerpesHerpes used to be categorized as “oral” or “genital” as if the two sets of body parts never met. Nowadays it’s classified as herpes 1 (the really bad one) or herpes 2 (the cold sores variety of the disease). The thing to know about herpes is that the first skin outbreak may be very mild.

You can have just a tingle or a tiny rash and be infected with genital herpes. The virus can go into nerves near the skin to ‘hide’ from the immune system, only breaking out when the nerve is injured or the immune system weakened.

A sunburn or a punch in the face, for example, can activate cold sores too. Infection with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis can also activate genital herpes.

The good news about herpes is that attacks become less and less severe and less and less frequent no matter what you do, providing of course, you don’t get reinfected. It’s possible to spread the disease even when you (or your partner) has just the slightest itch or a tingle.

5. Trichomoniasis – Street name: ‘T-Vag’

TrichomoniasisTrichomoniasis is an infection with a one-celled animal called a protozoan. This tiny, tentacled parasite flourishes in a woman’s vagina when something kills the probiotic bacteria that usually keep it in check. Women over 45 tend to get trichomoniasis infections when their estrogen levels are low.

Women are also more prone to infection when the surface of the vagina is acidic (as it is after using an acidic douche for example).

Men usually don’t experience severe symptoms from this disease, just some itching in the tip of the penis or burning during urination. A low fever, and possibly swelling in one testicle can also be experienced. In older men with weakened immune systems, the infection can cause prostate inflammation and narrowing the of the urethra that blocks the flow of urine.

There are about 180 million cases of trichomoniasis infection worldwide every year. A round of Flagyl or Tindamax under doctor’s supervision usually knocks it out, but both partners will need to get treatment at the same time.

In most countries it’s estimated that around 80% of sex workers have this infection, although it is possible to catch the disease through non-sexual contact. Trichomoniasis is particularly common in sub-Saharan Africa.

6. HPV – Street name: ‘Genital warts’

HPVHPV is the abbreviation for human papillomavirus, the virus that causes genital warts in men and cervical dysplasia and, in rare instances, cervical cancer, in women. It spreads from membrane to membrane. Engaging in receptive anal intercourse raises the risk of HPV infection hugely.

If a person avoids deficiency in vitamin A and beta-carotene, their risk of catching the disease is about 95% lower, even in unprotected sex. Even so, that remaining 5% is still enough to cause an awful lot of problems.

It takes anywhere between 3 and 20 months for the virus to cause warts, then they may go away spontaneously over a period of 5 to 10 years. At any given time about 12% of the world population carries this virus; up to 30% in Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Gardasil injection also protects against some, but not all, of the strains of HPV that can infect men, but you don’t need Gardasil if you use protection.

7. HIV – Street name: No common alternatives found

HIVThe virus that causes AIDS is not limited to any one group of people. Straight men, gay men, bi men and their partners can all catch HIV. It was nicknamed in its early discovery as the ‘Gay Plague’, a label that was soon dropped as infection began spreading faster among heterosexuals.

In fact HIV infection continues to spread faster in the heterosexual community than it ever did throughout the gay, and there seems to be no signs of letup.

The most common mode of transmission is rough sex, either heterosexual or homosexual. The harder the intercourse, the more likely it is that tiny blood vessels will be broken, and HIV will enter. Cultures that encourage men to draw blood when they penetrate have the highest rates of HIV infection.

And in the USA, HIV infections have started appearing where one might least expect them–among widows and widowers in nursing homes.

And this sums up our 7 most common STDs that middle-aged men are catching
in the twenty-first century.

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Staying Safe

The advice for preventing these diseases is the same for older guys as it is with younger chaps, and that is protection. Condoms help, obviously, but nothing will reduce the risk more than a lifestyle change.

BY ROBERT RISTER | 50ish Site Contributor
Robert Rister is a senior health writer here at 50ish.org

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Readers Comments

    Andy Aitch says:

    UK’s battle with HIV goes into reverse, prompting calls for more testing.

    Estimated 100,000 people to have virus by year’s end according to a new report calling for better prevention and awareness. The above headline was from 2011. Years end 2012 is said to be even worse, with the biggest rise in new cases coming from middle-aged men.



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