Being Gay and Ageing
Everyone knows life doesn’t stop at 45, yet many people think sex does.
As we mature, many gay men feel distanced from or unwelcome at some social venues such as clubs or bars that cater to a younger crowd. Even on gay websites, some younger guys make older men feel unwelcome or make us feel as if we have become unattractive or simply invisible. Gay men sometimes treat each other as mere physical objects and we may feel judged purely on the basis of our age and our appearance, leaving us feeling socially and sexually undesirable.
Many safer sex campaigns focus on younger guys, perhaps forgetting that we remain sexual beings as we get older.
What You Should Know
- Having sex at a mature age carries the same health risks as it does for younger guys. We remain susceptible to contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially if we are receptive (bottom) for oral or anal sex. We can also transmit such infections to our partners.
- HIV and other STIs are sometimes overlooked in older people; healthcare providers forget that we may still be sexually active, and the symptoms of HIV may be similar to the natural effects of the ageing process. It is therefore important that you get tested for HIV and other STIs.
- Conditions attributed to ageing, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems and arthritis may occur earlier in men who are HIV positive, who may also be more prone to forgetfulness and depression.
What Can You Do?
- There are many reasons to stop smoking and drinking, including the fact that nicotine and alcohol contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). Cholesterol can also be a contributing factor. HIV itself can cause ED, as can taking medication (including ARVs).
- Some healthcare providers are uncomfortable talking about sex, especially with an older person. If you have concerns or questions and need to talk about sex, raise the subject yourself.
- Don’t use any products to boost your sexual functioning without your healthcare provider’s consent.