A third of Britons find talking with a new partner about condoms so embarrassing it puts them off using one at all, a survey has suggested.
Condoms can prevent sexually transmitted diseases
Yet a third of the 2,169 adults polled by the Family Planning Association (FPA) said they regretted not using a condom with a new partner in the past.
The charity said despite living in a highly sexualised society, talking about condoms is still taboo to many.
And recent figures show sexually transmitted infections are rising.
In 2006 in England, genital herpes went up by 9% to 21,698 new diagnoses and chlamydia went up 4% to 113,585.
Anne Weyman, chief executive of the FPA, said: "We have to ask why in the 21st Century when sex is so widely portrayed in British culture, talking about using condoms is still embarrassing."
She said that people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, who might be supremely confident talking about everything else in their lives, still struggled at the thought of talking about condoms.
It is this group that she would like to see targeted with safer sex campaigns.
"Thirty-somethings are a forgotten generation. They received little sex and relationships education at school but grew up in an increasingly sexualised society.
"They've had to find the confidence themselves to talk about condoms and learn the hard way.
"It's not surprising that people can feel it's easier not to use a condom than put themselves through the torture of talking about a subject they feel deeply uncomfortable about," she said.
Genevieve Clark of the Terrence Higgins Trust said: "I'm afraid people still find it easier to have sex than talk about it.
"This embarrassment about condoms is odd when you consider the alternative - putting yourself at risk of an infection or pregnancy that could have been prevented.
"Let's get over our blushes, and make condoms a normal part of a healthy sex life."
The FPA has produced a tips leaflet to help people talk about using condoms with a new sexual partner.
The advice includes approaching the topic away from the bedroom, without all the pressure and before having sex.