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Intimate Relations

It's a myth that older people no longer want or need a sex life. Sexuality doesn't just disappear as you age and it's perfectly natural for you to have sexual desires. It's accepted that older people still have sexual relationships, so don't be surprised if you meet someone who wants this even if you don't. However, the same advice applies as when you were young - don't ever feel pressured into something you're not comfortable with, and always practice safe sex.

Benefits of Sexual Activity

It can certainly be good for your wellbeing. Being touched, hugged, stroked and having orgasms all appear to make people happier. Whether it makes you live longer is harder to say, but one study found that men who had frequent orgasms did live longer.

There are many reasons why regular sex is good for you. In women it can increase blood estrogen levels, helping to protect against coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, and helping to keep the pelvic floor muscles toned. In men, sex releases hormones which help strengthen bones and muscles, and helps to protect against heart disease.


Contraception isn't there just to prevent pregnancy, although that may have been your biggest concern when you were younger. It's a myth that sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) are only a problem for younger people. According to research from the Health Protection Agency there has been a rise in people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s having sex with new partners over the last 10 years and this has led to an increase in the number of over 45s affected by STIs.

Condoms are the only form of contraception that will protect you from STIs. You should use them if you're having sex with someone of the opposite sex or if you're a gay man.

New Relationships

We all want different things from relationships, so don't make any assumptions about what your partner is looking for. While it's usually fairly easy to work out if someone is interested with you, it can be hard to tell if they're looking for a casual relationship or a more serious commitment - and you may not be sure what you're looking for yourself.

Before you start looking for someone new, think carefully about whether you're ready for a new relationship. If you're newly single, this means coming to terms with the end of your previous relationship and giving yourself time to process your feelings. If you're bereaved, you may need to give yourself a chance to take in what has happened.

Consider joining activities where you're likely to meet like-minded people, for example, a walking group, a book club or a dance class. You could volunteer with a charity or sign up to a course for some informal learning. Not everyone finds it easy to meet people this way, especially if you're shy, but there are other ways to meet people. There are a number of online dating agencies that cater for older people, whether heterosexual, lesbian or gay.

Your Changing Body

It is an inevitable fact that, however young we feel inside, physically our body is changing. Men may find it more difficult to get and maintain an erection, while women may find lubrication a problem. Erectile dysfunction can be a sign of other health problems, so do speak to your GP.

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is the inability to get and maintain an erection that is sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse. ED is a very common condition, particularly in older men. It is estimated that half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 will have it to some degree.

Although you may be embarrassed, it is important that a healthcare professional diagnoses ED so that the cause can be identified. ED can usually be diagnosed after a consultation with your GP. This will involve answering questions about your symptoms, as well as a physical examination and some simple tests.

These problems should not be just accepted a s apart of growing older - your GP can probably help you, so don't be embarrassed to ask for advice.


If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.

Fact Zone

The more physical activity you do, the greater the benefit.


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