Counselling, support and information for all relationships 
You may have seen Relate's recent campaign 'Let's Talk The Joy of Later Life Sex' in which we teamed up with renowned British photographer Rankin to shine a light on sex in the mature years. Five older couples bared all; and captured was some of the most beautiful, bold images of older bodies and touching moments of intimacy we've ever seen. The aim was to tackle the stigma around a somewhat unspoken subject of later life sex. This inspired one of our own counsellors turned trustee Barbara, to write about the topic. A qualified sex therapist and counsellor, which is immediately apparent from her writing - read on to see what she had to say.  
Sex is not just for the young. Although sex, when it is portrayed, often involves young people with young bodies.  This can reinforce the internalised ageism from which we can all suffer.  Here at Relate, we believe that no matter what your age or sexuality, you deserve the joy and pleasure that intimacy and sex can bring.  Sex is something that can improve your physical and mental health, your sense of wellbeing and self-esteem. 
Age brings changes which can affect your intimate life.  Things like changing hormone levels - testosterone and oestrogen, erectile problems, changes in libido, vaginal changes.  Orgasms can feel less powerful and so less pleasurable due to weaker pelvic floor muscles.  Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen these muscles.  Your body changes and can affect how you see yourself as desirable or not. Sex in later life may have to be redefined but that does not mean that it is not as good as when you were younger.  Different is not less good. The intimacy of touch produces oxytocin which is the bonding hormone.  Sadly, when there is a sexual problem, there can be a knock-on effect of less every day touching and kissing. This can increase the inhibitions that creep in and add to your low self-esteem. 
Apathy can happen, especially if, through pain or ill health, it starts to feel easier to not have sex.  Often in relationships closeness through shared memories, humour, just being "comfortable " together can, paradoxically, preclude sex because those things become your intimacy. 
Communication is key in starting to discuss sex and to voicing your needs or changing views.  However, talking about sex is often something that most people find difficult. When we are young there does not feel much to have to talk about. As we get older and many changes happen, it becomes something that needs discussion and rethinking.  Relate can help you learn to talk about sex, talk about how sex can still be a positive and pleasurable part of your life, if you would like it to be.  Most problems, when talked through and normalised, can be explored and solutions found. 
If you would like your sex life to improve or you would like to reinstate your intimacy but feel you don't know where to start, then remember that Relate is here to help no matter what your sexual orientation, age or problem.  Aging need not mean that sex is in the past.  You deserve to have the physical and psychological happiness that feeling good about your intimate life can bring. 
Sex is not just for the young.  If you have that belief due to societal imprinting, then please come and talk to Relate and in turn learn to talk about sex and your needs and learn to have confidence that sex can be an enjoyable part of your life, no matter what your age. 
Speak in confidence to one of our qualified sex therapists; call us at Relate today on 0115 958 4278. 
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