Older lovers will be targeted in a new safe sex campaign as they engage in the same risky sexual activities as the younger generation.
The Family Planning Association plans to bring out an information pack aimed at older adults after statistics showed a big increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among those aged 30-plus.
Association head Jackie Edmond said anecdotal evidence from the clinics suggested some people in their 40s and older were coming out of long-term relationships and taking new partners without the skills or knowledge to look after themselves.
They may have grown up without formal sex education and, in the pre-Aids era, spent most of their adult life with one sexual partner.
"You are not different when you are older than when you are younger. We all think we're bulletproof and it won't happen to us. People are out there having a good time and not always thinking about the consequences."
Dr Christine Roke, the association's medical adviser, said: "I've seen older women coming in for the emergency contraceptive pill. They say, 'I've just done what I've told my daughter not to!"'
Some patients she sees assume their new partner has no STIs. But in the case of chlamydia, our most common STI, 50 per cent of men and 70 per cent of women don't realise they are infected.
STI data collected by Environmental Science and Research showed the 30-39 age group had the second biggest rise in the number of chlamydia cases reported by sexual health clinics in the 10 years to 2006 (234 per cent), after the 25-29 age group (349 per cent).
The rise in gonorrhoea was by far the greatest in the 30-39 age group, increasing by 883 per cent, followed by 532 per cent in the 25-29 age group. STI rates are still far greater in younger people.
The new pack will cover information on STIs, safe internet dating, how to negotiate a new relationship and a break-up, and domestic violence.By Nicola Shepheard