LONDON — A survey of 2,000 single women and men in the United Kingdom who were over the proverbial “hill” found that about half of the participants were regularly engaging in unprotected sex. Perhaps not surprisingly, 2 in every 100 respondents admitted to having contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) after their 40th birthday.

As for the reasoning behind not using protection during sexual encounters, a third of the participants said they simply aren’t worried about pregnancy anymore. But statistics reveal they should still be concerned, according to Well Pharmacy, the UK’s largest independent pharmacy business, which commissioned the research. About 3 percent of women have an unplanned pregnancy after the age of 40, and fertility rates for women that age are rising rapidly, the researchers say.

Meanwhile, a quarter of respondents said they are using forms of contraception other than condoms, even if those other methods don’t also prevent the spread of STIs.

“Practicing safe sex is just as important for people over 40 as it is for younger people. And with evidence that STIs are on the increase in the UK, we would advise people actively dating at any age to use condoms to protect themselves against STIs and unplanned pregnancies,” says Jane Devenish, a pharmacist with Well Pharmacy, in a release.

Meanwhile, erectile dysfunction proved to be problematic in relationships for plenty of participants. The survey also showed that 36 percent of men and 24 percent of women in the study reported erectile dysfunction halting a sexual encounter.

“Our research revealed the serious impact erectile dysfunction can have, with 42 percent of people in relationships having less or no sex with their partner,” says Devenish. “Forty percent of singles admitted it made them feel anxious about having sex, and 25 percent had less body confidence as a result of the experience.”

As for the reasons behind the difficulties, about two-thirds of respondents blamed ED on stress or anxiety, with an equal number pointing to drinking too much alcohol before a sexual encounter. More than half blamed the side effects from prescription meds, and another 44 percent simply chalked it up to getting older. But Devenish says men in their 40s shouldn’t be concerned about impotence because of their age.

“Contrary to popular belief, old age does not cause impotence. Many men experience occasions when they struggle to get or maintain an erection, and this is usually due to stress, tiredness or drinking too much, and is nothing to worry about,” she says. ”However, if erection problems keep on happening, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or even diabetes.”

Interestingly, only 17 percent of respondents had either tried taking Viagra or been with a person who had tried it. Devenish says a service called “Eddie” for Brits who are concerned about ED allows them to look into treatment or speak to professionals discreetly.

”There is even an option to add-on condoms to encourage patients to practice safe sex,” adds Devenish.

About Ben Renner

Writer, editor, curator, and social media manager based in Denver, Colorado. View my writing at

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