Partner-swapping swingers STI threat highlighted
Partner-swapping swingers could be threatening the population with sexually-transmitted diseases, researchers claim.
And the oldest swingers in town appear to be the worst unsafe sex offenders, study results show.
Swingers are defined as straight couples who regularly swap partners at organised gatherings and clubs and indulge in group sex. There could be millions of them worldwide, representing a hidden but significant source of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), say experts.
The new research, carried out in the Netherlands, found that swingers had some of the highest rates of STIs, along with young heterosexuals and gay men. Those over the age of 45 were most likely to be infected, and women who swung had higher infection rates than men.
A team led by Dr Nicole Dukers-Muijrers, from the South Limburg Public Health Service in Geleen, wrote in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections: "Potentially, they may act as an STI transmission bridge to the entire population."
The researchers studied patients seeking treatment at three Dutch clinics between 2007 and 2008. Serving a population of 630,000, the clinics in South Limburg had kept records of patients' partner-swapping habits since 2007 in order to track infection rates among swingers.
During the study period, there were just under 9,000 consultations at the three clinics. One in nine patients, or 12%, was a swinger, whose age range centred around 43.
Overall, combined rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea infection were just over 10% among straight people, 14% among gay men, 10.4% among swingers, and just under 5% among female prostitutes.
Although heterosexuals accounted for the majority of STIs in the youngest age groups, infections were much more likely to be found in older swingers. Partner swappers accounted for 55% of all STIs diagnosed in patients over the age of 45, while gay men made up 31% of this group.
Rebecca Findlay, of the sexual health charity the Family Planning Association (FPA), said: "The lesson from this study for British swingers is that they're a risk group for STIs. If they're off swinging they need to organise condoms and use them."