Newly single in midlife and considering getting back in the sexy-time saddle? Welcome to the divorce club, baby, she says, with a hint of faux enthusiasm.
Via the app, I can safely share my STI status with my lover, who, in return, would use the app to share his with me
As for that difficult stripping-off moment just before jumping into bed, what can I say? Vodka helps. As does a dimmer switch. Sex with long-term partners just sort of happens each, you know, tax return. And that’s OK. Sort of.
But when you’re newly unleashed and having sex with different people, well, there’s just so much to think about, and I don’t mean the usual list of spa treatments, which for me now includes pedicure, nether-region wax, and eyelash tint, so I don’t look like a piglet in the morning. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now we have Covid to worry about, or, as my dear mum would say, Covit, it’s enough to make me consider celibacy. No, it’s not actually, but having an STI test is.
According to research available on Age UK’s website, STIs are massively on the increase in the over-60s age range and beyond. We’ve been very careful in the prevention of the spread of Covid, and being greeted by a person wearing a full-face visor and hazmat suit, outstretched gloved hand eager to check our vaccination status moments after disembarking a plane, is now a given, but, like Covid, catching an STI in older years is something we never saw coming.
Covid statuses are here to stay; even dating apps are on board – in addition to height, location and where a person went to school, you can now check whether they’re vaccinated (assuming they’ve added their vaccination status to their dating profile). If only we could apply as much rigour and care to our sexual wellbeing. Covid vaccine status? I’d rather know if my new lover has been practising safe sex. Entering into a relationship, casual or otherwise, and compromising my sexual health is frightening.
Unless there’s vodka and a dimmer switch involved. Then, anything goes. Take, for example, last summer, dating the Frenchman. I asked him if he’d mind taking several tests, and I promised to do the same. After a rather excruciating conversation involving a doctor, his penis and a long stick, we shared results and merrily got down to business. It did cross my mind, however, that any ole psycho with a laptop could forge medical results.
I’ll be honest, after being with the same partner for a very long time, sex with someone new can feel awkward and weird and, well, plain odd at first
But what if there were an app where – with consent and by choice, because no one should be forced to share their sexual-health status publicly, ever – willing participants could upload their STI results and share them (very privately, we’re not talking TikTok videos here) with potential partners? Drum roll, you sexy beast, gird your loins. There is an app and I’ve found it!
Picture the scene. Two mothers – Georgia Di Mattos, an architect, and Bianca Dunne, who works for the NHS as a sonographer – meet with their same-age babies at a playgroup while on maternity leave. Georgia enjoys sex clubs and is in an open relationship with her husband; Bianca has medical training.
And so, over several bottles of Aptamil, an idea was born. No, not a kinky maternity nurse fetish range (a quick Google confirms that already exists); they are, in fact, the formidable female founders of the sexiest STI app I’ve ever clapped eyes on (pardon the pun).
With STI numbers rocketing, it’s timely. Sadly, the female founding duo didn’t name their new business The Clap App, which, had they asked, I would have immediately suggested. Instead, they went for iPlaySafe. Although not currently worried about my own sexual health, I ordered iPlaySafe’s purple-hued box, which contains an STI home-test kit that checks for the six main STIs.
Once I’ve completed the urine and pinprick test, I’ll post it to their lab, download the app, and hold my breath for a couple of days until the results come in. Even though I would save coffee meets bagel myself 70 quid (the cost of the test kit), it’s not that I’m too mortified to join the long queue outside the local STI clinic after school drop-off, it’s that this STI home-testing kit has a very clever twist.
No room for fake STI results, see? Which brings me back to threesomes. When founder Georgia and her husband invite a partner to play with them, they rightly ask for sexual-health screening results.
Perhaps this app will sit alongside my Covid vaccination status, then, next time I venture out on a date that’s going well? I wouldn’t be ashamed if anyone saw it accidentally flip open in my iPhone wallet.
Sex, touch and intimacy are good for our health, they boost our mood; sex at any age is wonderful and certainly not taboo, dirty, ugly or shameful. Emma Thompson said in a recent article for Vogue that since playing her most recent role of a 55-year-old widow who hires a sex worker for the night because she’s never had an orgasm, her attitude towards her body has changed (she famously decided against losing 20lb for the role).
“Before making Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, I had no idea how much I would learn about my attitude to my own body, to pleasure and to shame – how much I would laugh about the genuine silliness of so many of our responses to sexual pleasure, and how much I would cry about what is lost in life when it is repressed,” she says.
Never say never. It’s never too late to get back in the sexy-time saddle. As long as it’s safe. So, if we can’t talk about safe sex with our GPs, perhaps doctors can bring up sexual health and stop assuming older people aren’t having “it”?
After all, there are plenty of frisky 80-somethings, and to them I say sexual-health wellbeing is one more thing to add to the travel checklist. Better get one of your grown-up children to print it off with your Covid pass. That’s right, kids, granny’s having sex and she loves it.