Do you remember that Salt-N-Pepa hit Let's Talk about Sex, Baby? Turns out they were right. No matter how old you are, you sometimes need to talk about sex, or certainly talk about some of the sexual problems that may occur thanks to getting older. However, you may not feel you can open up to your partner. Then what? Would you share your most intimate secrets with someone you had never met before if it meant saving your marriage?
There was a time when it was considered inappropriate to discuss sex and sexual anxieties. Certainly, what you got up to in the bedroom was nobody's business but your own. You would probably rather have all your teeth removed with no anaesthetic, than admit to a complete stranger that your sex life had dried up. Yet, times have changed. We live in a permissive age, a digital age where answers can be found online, and in an age when we are encouraged to speak openly about our anxieties.
If you have any doubts about going to see a sex therapist then learning more about what they offer is a good start. Sophie Hart's hilarious novel, The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees follows three different couples who go to see a sex therapist to help them deal with their problems. One couple are in their late fifties, and their love life has prematurely ground to a halt. Sound familiar? Here's a book that introduces you to the life of a sex therapist and will give you the confidence to go and visit one. As Sophie says, "Relationship issues can often come about because of a lack of communication between couples, and talking with a third party can often help."
There are lots of funny moments in the book. There are also some great quotes about sex to start off every chapter - one of my favourites is from the late Robin Williams, "The problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time."
Sex is important to us, no matter what our age. According to AARP Real Possibilities website l there are seven good reasons why you should have more sex after 50:
1. You sleep better after sleeping with someone.
2. You know and enjoy your body more.
3. You look younger.
4. You lower your odds of "GD" (for women).
5. You lower your odds of the "Big C" (for men).
6. You strengthen your relationship.
7. You make the world a better place.
The evidence for having regular sex is strong but what about if you no longer enjoy sex? What do you do if your libido has completely vanished? You are not alone. You may be like many menopausal women who, having spent all night swimming in pools of sweat, are not interested in the amorous attentions from their other half at five o' clock in the morning. Or, you may be a man facing middle age who fears he is no longer attractive and loses self-esteem. Sex therapy could well be the answer.
Annie Day from Heaven Scent Bliss has been a sex therapist for 16 years. The majority of her patients are either over 50 or approaching it. She says, "50 seems to be a significant time for both genders and a time when people are especially vulnerable to changes in their attitudes and in their appearances." Among others, she treats both men and women who are approaching, or going through the male and female menopause. She continues, "Men as well as women, can become miserable about their appearance and often feel overwhelmed by this part of their life."
Annie claims one of the most common problem for couples is a lack of time and motivation for opportunities for great sex. Often, thanks to busy work schedules, teenagers or elderly parents living at home, they are not making time for each other.
There are also other reasons for lack of libido. Rather alarmingy, an increased number of men are being prescribed statins for stress-related disorders, unaware that one of the most challenging side effects of taking statins is that it often causes Erectile Dysfunction (ED). The man, unaware of the side effects is mortified to discover he is suffering from ED. It affects his self-esteem hugely. He will often refuse to discuss it with his partner, believing he is a failure. This can often result in a downhill spiral that results in a breakdown in the relationship and arguments.
Don't suffer in silence. If you are unable to voice concerns with your significant other, make an appointment to talk to a therapist alone. It is also not unusual for one half of the relationship to go to a sex therapist to discuss the problem and then encourage their partner to join them. Treatment comes in a variety of guises and there are numerous ways to help couples resolve their issues. (No, you do not have to whip off your clothes in the treatment room and show off your lovemaking technique.)
Sex therapy treatment does not have to be carried out at the practice. It is also available throughout the world as a Skype treatment. Annie currently has sex therapy patients all over the UK, USA, Netherlands, France and Australia who have never met her.
You should never be embarrassed to seek help from a professional in this field. Moreover, there is no age limit on enjoying sex. Annie admits she has treated a lovely couple aged 86 and 88. They only needed a little sex magic putting back into their lives to continue enjoying their relationship.
So, let's make sure we maintain a healthy attitude and let's talk about sex. And if it makes you feel awkward, try talking about with some humour à la Robin Williams. Let's talk about it openly. After all, both humour and sex are good for our health.