A leading Welsh doctor says the erotic trilogy’s success could be giving couples more sexual confidence but warned that there was a risk they were failing to use protection.
The “Fifty Shades of Grey” effect is leading to older people being more adventurous in bed and could be explanation for a rise in sexually transmitted infections among older couples, according to a leading doctor.
The film based on the erotic novels is due for release on Valentine’s Day next year with Jamie Dornan set to take on the role of billionaire Christian Grey.
Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, said the novels’ success could be giving couples more sexual confidence but warned that there was a risk they were failing to use protection.
She said: “When it comes to forgetting about safe sex we always think of the vulnerability of young people but there’s the Fifty Shades of Grey effect where older people are being more explorative, but not necessarily remembering to use a condom.
“Anyone, of any age, going into new relationships should be thinking about safe sex and particularly the role of condoms. People need to take care.”
Dr Jones said that aside from the regular conditions, doctors in Wales were also starting to see more cases of other infections.
She said: “The most common things we tend to see are thrush and chlamydia but we are certainly seeing more cases of gonorrhoea and trichomonas.
“I would always advise anyone who has got any symptoms to get them checked out, whether at a GUM clinic where they can be anonymous or with their GP.
“Do not be embarrassed – we have seen it all before, it cannot come as a surprise to us.”
Her comments come just weeks after health experts reported seeing a dramatic rise in the number of cases of syphilis in North Wales.
Earlier this month, Public Health Wales said they had seen 39 cases of the infection since the middle of 2013, a significant increase from the seven cases usually seen each year in the region.
The organisation said that, to date, most cases of the infection, which can be passed on through sexual contact, have been in men who have had sex with other men.
The rise in cases was first seen in residents of Anglesey but there are now cases across the North Wales region.
Dr Jones said: “Syphilis always used to be a standard screening test for patients with dementia but that has now stopped.
“It was quite common during the war as people travelled around and did not use condoms. But it is unusual that it is coming back.
“In groups that do not tend to use condoms, they share infections and that’s where you have a problem.”
Dr Chris Whiteside, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, said: “People with syphilis may develop painless ulcers in their genital or mouth area.
“They may also develop a rash over their body, palms of the hands and soles of their feet.
“These symptoms may disappear without the person being aware of them, but they will remain infected and risk infecting other sexual partners.
“The symptoms of tertiary syphilis, which will occur many years after acquiring infection, can be dangerous enough to cause death.
“Syphilis can be cured with a course of antibiotics. The best way to prevent syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases is to use a condom.’’
“We urge anyone with symptoms or who may be at risk of infection to attend their local district general hospital based sexual health/ genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic to be tested.”
Meanwhile, Sarah Andrews, principal public health practitioner for Public Health Wales, warned that some people may have difficulty in accessing sexual health services, which could be contributing to the problem.
She said: “In Wales, we have got so many rural areas that sometimes it’s difficult to provide sexual health clinics as close to people as we would like.
“There are ways we are trying to improve this but I think Wales does have some challenges to providing a full service to rural communities.
“People might find it hard to get to these clinics so they may postpone getting a check-up.”