'I didn't always use protection - caught without any, in the heat of the moment, I threw caution to the wind.

Then I discovered I had chlamydia.' You'd be forgiven for assuming that Judy is an irresponsible 20- something, heedless of the consequences of her actions.

In fact, she's 51 and the educated, successful director of a blue-chip company - with a 21-year-old daughter.

what is the dating age law in pennsylvania-20

She explains: 'I'd never even slept with anyone other than my husband, and suddenly I found myself using sex with men to make me feel better about myself.' Judy joined a couple of internet dating sites and found it surprisingly easy to meet men in their 40s and 50s who wanted no-strings flings.

But it's not necessarily what most women are after.

Confused and upset by the shock of their relationship falling apart, particularly if they hadn't wanted or expected it, they embark, initially at least, on a self-destructive pattern of seeking solace through sex with near-strangers.

'I certainly hadn't ever expected to be single again at the age of 47,' says Judy. He was my first love and I never imagined a time when we wouldn't be together.' Judy felt her world had collapsed and spent most of her time in tears.

Mostly, though, it's been the women who have instigated the separation and there has been no other person involved.

And it's a pattern that's being repeated all over the country: 68 per cent of divorces are now initiated by wives.

And if the menopause proves tricky to navigate, there's always HRT to help us through.

The Noughties was the decade in which women, for the first time, could say I'm Fifty And Fabulous or Sixty And Sensational and it was a genuine feeling, rather than just empty words.

We met online and within a week we'd met under the guise of going for drinks - alcohol gave us both confidence and we ended up back at my house.

'He didn't stay the night, but he did send an email the following day thanking me for a "fun evening".

Health Protection Agency figures show a 60per cent increase in cases of chlamydia in 2008 in this age group, compared to 2004.