Looking for love online has become very popular these days, it once used to be a secret but now nobody minds anymore to admit to it. On-line dating is not only for the young, older Australians are also turning to the internet to find romance as many baby boomers find themselves single again.

With more Australians living longer and healthier lives and divorce rates on the rise, many will find new sexual partners later in life. Many of them, who have been in long monogamous relationships are now looking for more casual sexual encounters before they are committing themselves again.

Especially women, who are now at a different stage in their life and are quite happy being single for a while. The children have left home and it is now time for them to have some fun. However a long period of sexual monogamy has left them ill-equipped about safe-sex practice, they were on the pill and never ever used a condom. They missed out on the “safe sex messages” which were promoted in the 1980s.

Education campaigns about safe sex are generally aimed at young people, there is still a number of ageist stereotypes in our community which make it difficult for some to believe that older people “have sex”. But the latest figures from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System show that STIs continue to rise, particularly among older age groups.

This week Family Planning NSW with the support of RSVP launched a safe sex awareness campaign for older Australians. Dr Deborah Bateson, the Medical Director at Family Planning NSW showed us the “Little Black Dress” campaign video and gave us a passionate speech. The theme of the video is: “Safe sex is an easier conversation to have with your clothes on”.

The video aims to educate older Australians about the risk of having sex without using a condom in a new relationship and being tested for STIs if unprotected sex happens. RSVP will help to promote the campaign, hosting a series of videos and articles on its Over 50 and Fabulous group to communicate the safe sex message to their members

Dr Bateson said “It is all about communication and our message is to be upfront when talking about safe sex with a new partner”.

“We want people to have an honest and frank discussion with their partner about using a condom, and have that discussion early, before being swept up in the heat of the moment’.

Dr Bateson is committed spreading the safe-sex message to older people and she was quoted last year in an article when she commented:  “I dream of running classes on condom-negotiation skills for older women”.

A very attractive and discreet business card sized wallet, with a picture on the front of the “Little Black Dress” has been designed which contains a condom, lube and instructions. The packs will be available from Family Planning NSW and will be distributed at future RSVP events.

As a sex therapist and relationship counsellor I specialise in telephone counselling all over Australia. I have had an increase in calls from women, who needed advice on how to start a new relationship again after the breakup of their marriage or long relationship. I was surprised how many of them had never considered safe sex, they still believed that you only need a condom to prevent pregnancies.

But I also had calls from women who had sex with several new partners and ended up with a STI and who were extremely embarrassed when their GP told them. The problem is not just for women, most men think they do not need condoms either for the same reasons. That’s why in my opinion, the video should be shown to the general public.

It is difficult to negotiate the use of a condom with a new partner, but they may be thinking the same. I suggest you check out the Family Planning website on how and where you can get those gorgeous looking “Little Black Dress” wallets, which will definitely be an interesting  “ice breaker” when you still have your clothes on!

Matty Silver

Matty Silver

Matty Silver is a relationship counsellor and sexual health therapist with a private practice in Sydney, who works with people to identify and overcome a range of physical and mental sexual health problems.

She specialises in telephone counselling all over Australia as another option to access advice or therapy. Telephone counselling provides a safe, supportive and confidential environment. It is anonymous and gives clients the freedom to talk about sexual issues without feeling embarrassed.

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