14069620Have you ever paid for sex? Visiting a prostitute is not something many of us would admit to. However, the practice is surprisingly common, according to a recent survey. The results, published in the academic journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, show that almost one in nine men in the UK have paid for sex.

The results revealed that just 0.1 per cent of British women have paid for somebody's sexual services. For men, the figure is much higher: 11 per cent out of the 6,108 surveyed. However, this does not appear to be an ongoing habit. Only 3.6 per cent of the men polled had paid for sex within the last five years, while just 1.1 per cent had done so within the last 12 months.

So what drives so many men to do this? While the stereotype might suggest that people who are sexually inexperienced might be driven to visit prostitutes, the answer seems to be the opposite. The men who paid for sex were found to have more than double the average number of sexual partners, with 32 compared to 14.

Dr Cath Mercer, lead researcher for the survey, told the BBC: "I think I was most surprised that it is not paid partners making up most of the total, but they are having more partners generally. These men tend to be highly sexually active."

Of course, all this sex comes at a price. Without using a condom, men leave themselves open to catching a wide range of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Men who have paid for sex in the past represent 15.6 per cent of all STI diagnoses, despite only making up 11 per cent of men.

This is a risk with all sex, of course, which is why it is so important to wear a condom and keep yourself protected. This applies whether you are looking to pay for sex, or just to have a fun time with your partner!