'Cougars' and condoms: let's talk about sex, says uni

The rise in divorce and online dating are widening women's networks of sexual partners and that of their partners in turn.
The rise in divorce and online dating are widening women's networks of sexual partners and that of their partners in turn. KatarzynaBialasiewicz

SEX can be fraught with awkward conversations.

If you are a middle-aged woman and you're nodding frantically, CQUni want to hear your stories - anonymously of course.

Bundaberg's Dr Cathy O'Mullan is launching a study to find out how heterosexual women aged 45 to 64 negotiate safe sex following a rise in STIs.

She says this demographic is often ignored when it comes to sex studies.

"Over the last decade we've seen almost a threefold increase in sexually transmitted infections, particularly chlamydia, in this group," Dr O'Mullan said.

"While the numbers are still low compared to younger people, it's an area of public health that has been neglected and it is something we need to keep an eye on."

The rise in divorce and online dating are widening women's networks of social and sexual partners and that of their partners in turn.

"It can be really difficult for women in this cohort to start raising the issue of safe sex and condom use," Dr O'Mullan said.

Many women in middle age have been in long-term relationships so they haven't had recent experience in negotiating safe sex.

They may associate condoms with promiscuity, or feel they don't need them because they are at low risk of getting pregnant.

More worrying is pressure from male counterparts to go along with unsafe sex.

While men's sexuality is more widely discussed, a lot of stigma and stereotyping persists around women, Dr O'Mullan said.

"Research shows even health professionals don't readily broach the subject of safe sex with older women.

"We hope the findings will have some use in policy and sexual health promotion.

"We want to challenge some ageist and sexist constructs - stereotypes like 'cougars' - and put this on the agenda."

Women interested in taking part in a phone interview can respond via text message or phone 0435 725 528 to receive an information sheet. 

Queries or concerns can also be addressed via or

Topics:  bundaberg cq university general-seniors-news sex wellbeing

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Dinner with a twist

TOP SHELF: Dirty Dick's theatre restaurant is coming to Proserpine Entertainment Centre.

There is no award Dirty Dick's can't lay claim to.

Festival's attracting the best

ROCKSTAR: International ambassador of Airlie Beach Festival of Music 8 Ball Aitken will take to the stage.

Airlie Beach festival is where it all started for 8 Ball Aitken.

Jake is having a ball as new cruise ambassador

CUTE: Whitsunday Cruise Ambassador Gay Bowden with grandson Jake Bull.

The youngest cruise ship ambassador.

Local Partners

Mackay's waterways fail quality test and here's why

WHITSUNDAY offshore marine zones topped the class but Mackay waterways failed to make the grade in the Mackay Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef report card

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Tim Finn headlining at Airlie Beach Music Festival

Music veteran Tim Finn from New Zealand will headline the Airlie Beach Music Festival.

Tim Finn: "It's the kind of festival that artists love"

First look at Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life series

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in a scene from the TV series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

NETFLIX drops first trailer for its revival of fan favourite.

How Kristie blind-sided everyone to win Australian Survivor

Kristie Bennett wins Australian Survivor.

FAN favourite says she was underestimated by her competitors.

Steve Irwin's final days through dad's eyes

Bob Irwin with his son Steve.

'You never expect that’s the last time you’re going to see your son'

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June