How to have sizzling sex in your 50s; monday Hormonal changes can affect libido as we get older. Relationship expert Susan Quilliam says simple steps can rekindle the romance NAME @dailyrecord.co.uk.
HAVING satisfying sex is an important part of life no matter how old you are. But all too often, age-related physical or emotional changes can lead to disharmony or disinterest in the bedroom.
The good news is, there's plenty that loving couples can do to get the spark fizzing again. And relationship expert Susan Quilliam believes sex can even get better after the age of 50.
"This life stage can be one of freedom," she said. "Gone is the fear of pregnancy. Your kids are grown and flown. You have more time and space for yourself and your relationship."
Here's how to fix the five most common sex problems as we age PROBLEM WE HAVE SEX LESS OFTEN When over-50s magazine Saga surveyed their readers about their changing sex lives, around 85 per cent admitted they made love less frequently now than they did in their 20s and 30s. But don't despair - the research also revealed older couples weren't skipping sex completely.
Almost half of those questioned said they did had sex at least once a week. SOLUTION FOCUS ON QUALITY NOT QUANTITY While the pace may slow down a little with age, the good news is that sex can be more rewarding as you get older. In the same Saga survey, the older respondents said they found making love was "more fulfilling".
Susan Quilliam suggests making the most of the greater self-confidence that comes with age to open up to your partner about what you need in bed - and to ask them what they need. Just talking about this will boost intimacy, she says. "And the closer you feel as a couple, the closer you'll feel sexually - sharing will naturally lead to more and better sex," adds Susan. PROBLEM MENOPAUSE ISSUES Falling oestrogen levels in the lead-up to and after the menopause cause women to produce less vaginal lubrication. This can make sex uncomfortable. SOLUTION BOOST LUBRICATION Talk to your doctor, because menopause treatments - including hormone replacement therapy - will help improve dryness. And don't skimp on foreplay, because sexual arousal is the best way to encourage maximum natural lubrication.
It's worth trying a lubricant, says Susan, such as New Durex Naturals Intimate Gel (PS9.99, from Boots). PROBLEM ERECTION ISSUES Most men suffer erection problems at some point in their lives but getting older can make it more difficult to get and sustain an erection regularly. SOLUTION DON'T BE AFRAID TO GET HELP Erectile dysfunction, as it's known by doctors, can often have medical causes - including heart disease or diabetes. Or it can be a side-effect of some prescription medication. So it's important to muster the courage to see your GP. If medical causes are ruled out, your doctor will often suggest trying a pill such as Viagra, which can boost erections. But bear in mind that medication like this might not work the first time and can cause side effects such as headaches, a stuffy nose and flushing of the face.
PROBLEM LOW LIBIDO The fall in hormone levels for men and women once they pass 50 can result in a natural decline in sex drive. But other emotional and health factors can play a big part.
People in good health with a decent level of fitness are nearly twice as likely to be interested in sex as they grow older, and more likely to report having a satisfying sex life, according to a study by the University of Chicago.
Untreated depression can also sabotage sexual desire. SOLUTION HAVE AN MOT Get your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight checked by your GP every year - and go and talk to them if depression is affecting you. If any health issues come up for either partner, why not embark on a diet and fitness plan together? Teaming up and spending more time together will have the benefit of increasing intimacy. PROBLEM SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES In recent years, we've seen a huge rise in "silver singles" - divorcees in their 50s and above who find themselves out there on the single scene.
But while you might not have to worry about unwanted pregnancy at this age, it's vital to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases.
Public Health England figures last year show almost twice as many people over 45 were diagnosed with STDs than 10 years ago.
SOLUTION ALWAYS USE A CONDOM WITH A NEW PARTNER "Don't forget to raise the important question of protection," advises Susan. "If you don't feel comfortable enough to discuss safe sex, perhaps you're not ready to sleep together."
And if you're worried you may have already caught something, see your GP or your local sexual health clinic for free anonymous testing.
PROBLEM IT TAKES LONGER TO CLIMAX Age-related hormonal drops for both sexes can make bodies less responsive and result in weaker pelvic floor muscles, meaning it takes longer to achieve orgasm.
SOLUTION EXERCISE "I would also recommend investing in a vibrator for women, and spending more time on manual foreplay for both sexes," says Susan.
It's also well worth doing pelvic floor exercises, because the stronger these muscles are in both sexesm the better sexual function and orgasm.
Give yourself a herbal boost? Creative Nature Organic Maca Powder (PS4.99 for 150g, from creativenaturesuperfoods.co.uk). Maca has been eaten in Peru for hundreds of years and is nicknamed Spanish Viagra as it's thought to have powerful natural aphrodisiac properties. Sprinkle on to cereal or into smoothies.
. ? Healthspan Ginkgo & Ginseng (PS10.95 for 120 tablets, from healthspan.co.uk). These Asian herbs are believed to lift energy and increase blood flow around the body, which could help improve erections for men and boost orgasms for both sexes. ? Holland & Barrett Horny Goat Weed (PS9.99 for 60 capsules) An ancient Chinese herbal remedy that may help combat low libido in men and women.
intimacy. Older people report having more fulfilling sex than in younger years. Picture: Getty Images