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Protect Yourself — and Your Privacy

Discreet ways to get condoms and STD tests

Sheaths, rubbers, love gloves, raincoats…no matter what you call them, condoms are essential to protect against STDs during vaginal and anal intercourse and oral sex.

Despite the widespread availability of condoms, adults over 50 are often hesitant to use them. One study found that nearly 60 percent of single women ages 58 to 93 didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex; 91 percent of men over 50 didn’t use a condom during sex with a casual acquaintance, according to another report.

See also: 8 common STDs.

colored condoms

Adults over 50 are often hesitant to use condoms. — Getty Images

"The last time a lot of 50, 60, and 70-year-olds were single, there was no need to carry condoms, ask partners to use condoms, or initiate conversations about sexual history and STD testing," says Laura Berman, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. “There is a real risk of contracting an STD in this age group, making condoms absolutely necessary,” she says. The only exception? Partners in monogamous relationships who have both tested negative for STDs,

Opt for latex or polyurethane condoms, which protect against viruses. Women should wear dental dams when receiving oral sex, to protect against STDs. Condoms should be used on shared sex toys to protect against the exchange of bodily fluids, advises Vanessa Cullins, M.D., vice president of medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

For all sex play, Cullins recommends using a water-based lubricant (oil-based products can break down latex condoms and increase the risk of spreading infections). "Lubrication is a must for women after menopause because it helps ease vaginal dryness and protects the vagina from micro-tears that might increase the risk of contracting an STD."

Next: Where to buy condoms and get tested for STDs.

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