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Good sex - Sex as you get older

NHS Choices Feature

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Your sex life might change as you get older, but that doesn't mean it has to be any less fun.

According to a survey by Saga (an online social community for the over-50s), 65% of over-50s are sexually active, with 46% claiming to have sex once a week. And 85% said that sex is less pressurised than when they were younger, proving that sex can feel better with age.

And that's not the only good news. Many postmenopausal women have quicker arousal, possibly linked to the reduced fear of pregnancy, according to The Sexual Advice Association.

Sexual desires and activity aren't static. They change throughout life for lots of reasons, such as having children, coming to terms with sexual orientation, or physical or mental illness. Growing older can also have an affect on sex, but it's important to realise that this is normal.

"Enjoying sex as we get older means recognising how the ageing process can affect the body and working around that," says Denise Knowles, psychosexual therapist at relationship charity Relate. "It's also about attitude. A lot of older people are reluctant to talk about sex with each other because it's something they didn't do when they were younger. But if you can talk about it, and accept your needs are changing and adapt to that, you can still have a fulfilling relationship."

New relationships

Starting a new relationship later in life can be daunting but exciting as well.

Many people who have lost a long-term partner feel guilty about getting close to someone else and starting a sexual relationship. This can affect their ability to have sex. Talking about these feelings with the new partner, a therapist, or both, can help to address this.

The rise in divorce rates means that more people are single and dating. "I see social change," says Denise. "Nowadays, women in their 50s, 60s and 70s don't think of themselves as old. They're glamorous, vibrant and feel good about their bodies."

Safer sex

A sexually active woman who wants to avoid pregnancy needs to use contraception until the menopause, (that is, until she has not had a period or bleeding for two years if under 50, and for one year if she's over 50).

All age groups can get, and pass on, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including herpes, chlamydia and HIV. Condoms help to protect against STIs, so talk to your new partner about using them.

Find out more about  male condoms and female condoms.  

Medical Review: April 04, 2012

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