Risky Christmas cocktail of frisky fifties and unsafe sex

December 06, 2010

The stereotypical image of sexually promiscuous teenagers has been dispelled as a myth today (6 December 2010). New research reveals that the current crop of youngsters are four times more likely to hold on to their virginity than older generations.

A study* ahead of the Christmas party season into the sexual habits of 3,000 people by The Co-operative Pharmacy shows that one in five teenagers delay having sex until the legal age compared to only one in 20 of those who are now in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties or older.

The over fifties – one in six - are also the most likely to never use contraception when having sex with a new partner. One in four admitted to having more than one ongoing sexual relationship.

Sexual diseases - Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes and warts - in this age group are also rising fast - up 43 per cent in the last five years**. And one in three aged 51 to 55 years old said they had ‘slept around’ and had an unprotected one night stand with a stranger. They are the most likely to think that they’ll be one of the ‘lucky ones.’

The portrayal of teens as having casual sex with different partners is challenged by the study which shows that as well as delaying their first sexual encounter the longest, 18 to 21 year olds have the fewest sexual partners by 16 compared to other generations. They are also the least likely to have an unprotected one night stand with a stranger or have more than one ongoing sexual relationship.

The Co-operative Pharmacy is highlighting the dangers of unprotected sex and in the run-up to the frisky festive period it has reduced the price of condoms by 25 per cent.

Lisa McCreesh, Pharmacist, The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “Our research challenges the belief that teenagers are more promiscuous than older generations. They unfairly get a bad name, while those in their fifties, who grew up in the sixties and seventies, are living up to the era’s care free image as they take greater risks with their sexual health.

“Don’t spoil the party season, as there are a number of contraceptive options available for all age ranges. However, condoms provide the most effective protection against STIs.

“If you have had unprotected sex, it is important to get a check-up as you may not show any symptoms.”

Natika Halil, Director of Information, FPA – the sexual health charity, said: “The message is the same for teenagers as well as people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s – don’t take a risk with your sexual health over the festive period. There is only one protection against most STIs – wearing a condom.

“FPA would like to congratulate The Co-operative Pharmacy on its initiative in providing contraceptive advice and cut-price condoms in December ahead of the party season.”

All branches of The Co-operative Pharmacy offer contraceptive advice and during December stores have condoms available on offer:

Savings Brand Quantity Price
Save 25% Durex Condoms Elite 12s Reduced to £6.41 from £8.55
Save 25% Durex Condoms Extra Safe 12s Reduced to £6.21 from £8.29
Save 25% Durex Condoms Fetherlite 12s Reduced to £6.44 from £8.59
Save 25% Durex Condoms Performa 12s Reduced to £7.16 from £9.55
Save 25% Durex Condoms Pleasuremax 12s Reduced to £7.16 from £9.55


The top five places people said they would be most likely to go for contraception advice were:

  • GP
  • Clinic
  • Internet
  • Pharmacist
  • Friends   

Additional Information:

*One Poll interviewed a random sample of 3,000 adults online in November 2010.  Surveys were conducted among adults across all ages and regions of the country.


**The latest figures from the Health Protection agency show there were 9,039 cases of selected STI diagnoses in 2009 compared to 6,285 in 2005  http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1247816547927


About The Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Group stands apart from other major retailers in the UK as a business which is owned, not by a small group of shareholders, but by more than five million consumers. With core interests in food, financial services, travel, pharmacy, funerals and farms, it has an annual turnover of £14 billion, employs 120,000 staff and operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets serving more than 20 million customers per week.

Following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, The Co-operative Food is the fifth largest food retailer. The Co-operative Financial Services is one of the largest and most diversified financial mutual businesses, operating The Co-operative Bank, The Co-operative Insurance and Britannia.

The Co-operative is the UK’s number one provider of funeral services, the third largest retail pharmacy chain, a leading travel retailer, supplying the travel needs of more than three million people annually, and is the UK’s largest farmer.

Among its other businesses are The Co-operative Motor Group, The Co-operative Electrical and The Co-operative Legal Services.

Contact Information:

Alex Anderson
Senior Public Relations Officer
The Co-operative Group
Tel - 0161 266 3416
Email - Alexandra.Anderson@co-operative.coop


Craig Noonan
PR Manager
Tel - 0161 266 3589
Mob - 07702 505439
Email - Craig.Noonan@co-operative.coop