Nearly half of single 40-somethings are regularly having unprotected sex, it has emerged.
Researchers who carried out a detailed study into middle aged dating found a large percentage of older Brits are ignoring the risks of catching sexually transmitted infections and having sex without a condom.
And that has lead to two in every 100 discovering they have contracted an STI since turning 40, according to the report.
One third said they ignore contraception because they no longer worry about pregnancy.
But this comes despite three in 100 having an unplanned pregnancy over 40, and fertility rates for women over 40 now exceeding that of women under 20.
Other reasons for unprotected sex are that a quarter are using other methods of contraception, despite these not protecting against STIs.
The study also found 36 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women have had a sexual encounter blighted by erectile dysfunction.
And one in four believe impotence makes dating more difficult for older people.
Jane Devenish, pharmacist at Well Pharmacy, which commissioned the research among 2,000 over 40s, said: “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.”
The research also revealed some major barriers to finding love over 40, with lack of body confidence, family baggage, health conditions, and erectile dysfunction coming out on top.
Jane added: “Our research revealed the serious impact erectile dysfunction can have, with 42 per cent of people in relationships having less or no sex with their partner.
“Forty per cent of singles admitted it made them feel anxious about having sex, and 25 per cent had less body confidence as a result of the experience.”
More than two thirds of adults over 40 believed impotence is caused by stress or anxiety, with an equal number pinning the blame on drinking too much alcohol.
More than half reckoned it’s the side effect of taking medication and 44 per cent said it’s a result of old age.
Jane explains: “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.
”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.”
It also emerged that 17 per cent have either tried Viagra or been with a partner who has tried it, with two thirds using the drug because of difficulty getting or keeping an erection during sex.
However, 35 per cent of those who have tried Viagra believed it would keep them harder for longer, 31 per cent thought it would improve their sexual performance, and 16 per cent used it in the hope it would improve their sex drive.
Jane said: “Viagra is very effective but only as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, which is difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection.
”It is a complete myth that the drug will improve your sex drive, and it does not enhance sexual performance in men without erectile dysfunction.”
Over half got Viagra on prescription from a GP, and 18 per cent got their treatment from a pharmacy without a prescription.
Jane added: “Viagra Connect is now available without a prescription from pharmacies across the UK, so it’s great to see a fifth of men with erectile problems going direct to a pharmacy for their treatment.
”We would strongly encourage men to seek the treatment they need, and for those who struggle to talk face-to-face about their condition, everything can now be done quickly and safely online at geteddie.co.uk, delivered discreetly to their door.
”There is even an option to add-on condoms to encourage patients to practice safe sex.”