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Remember the day your parents sat your teenaged self down for the birds and the bees chat?

It may be time you returned the favour.

A new University of Florida study that explored the attitudes of women over age 50 found that while the participants knew about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases, they were uncomfortable discussing safe sex with their doctors. The study, which was published in The Journal of Consumer Affairs, also found that they often avoided talking to their partners about condoms to avoid rejection or conflict.

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And that's risky behaviour, no matter what age you are.

While this generation of seniors may be getting busy like nobody's business (a study in the Student British Medical Journal reports that 80 per cent of people between ages 50 and 90 were having sex), statistics show that STDs are rising among baby boomers in Canada, the United States and Britain, with rates doubling in the past 10 years.

Many seniors aren't practising safe sex: A 2010 study out of Indiana University that analyzed national survey results found that condom use with a casual partner was lowest among men 50 years and older. (Men in their 50s said they used condoms only 28 per cent of the time compared with men between ages 18 and 39 who used condoms with casual partners 50 per cent of the time.)

Researchers have suggested that the lack of condom use is because seniors know they can't get pregnant, and may assume that STDs are an issue mainly for young people. "Many of these people haven't been single for a long time, and they missed the public health messages," Pepper Schwartz, a sexologist at the University of Washington, told US News. "They missed the need to use condoms, because they were dependent on methods like the Pill. But this older population is often dating – and often dating more than one person at a time."

That means Mom or Dad may need a sex education refresher. (Here are some tips to kick-start the conversation.)

And while you're at it, maybe Grandma and Grandpa too.

Is the 'safe-sex' talk more uncomfortable between seniors? Have you ever broached the subject with a parent?

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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