Ask the sex doctor

Are you starting out with a new partner? Perhaps you want to know if sex is safe after a heart attack. You're not alone, and Dr Anne Edwards has the answers.

I'm 60 and have started seeing someone new. Do I really need to worry about condoms?

Yes, it's a good idea to use a condom to protect you against sexually transmitted infections.

There has been an increase in recent years in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in older people, so even if you don't have to worry about getting pregnant, it's important to use a condom to stay healthy. Cases of HIVchlamydia, genital warts, genital herpes and gonorrhoea are all going up in older people, mainly because too many people don't use condoms. 

If you're thinking of having sex with someone new, encourage them to use a condom. You may find it difficult to talk about, but there is so much publicity about condoms that your partner may not be surprised if you bring up the subject. 

If you're a woman having sex for the first time in a while, you may enjoy it more if you use extra lubrication. If this isn't enough, a course of oestrogen cream from your GP could help.

Find out more about how to have safer sex

How soon is it safe to have sex after a heart attack?

If you've had a heart attack, your specialist team and your GP should give you advice based on your individual circumstances. In general, you can start having sex again three to four weeks afterwards.

If you've already had a heart attack, your risk of having another one caused by sex is tiny.

Exercising regularly is one of the most important things you can do to avoid another heart attack. If you do this, it will also reduce your risk of a heart attack related to sex.

Read more about how to keep your heart healthy.

Is sex really good for your health?

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.

Regular exercise could keep you healthy and keep your sex drive alive. The most common sex problems are lack of interest for women and impotence for men. Exercise can help with both of these problems, as can doctors. Your GP will see a lot of people with these or other sex problems, so don't feel embarrassed about asking for help.

Read more about sexual problems in women and sexual problems in men

Dr Anne Edwards is clinical director at the GUM Clinic, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Page last reviewed: 11/09/2013

Next review due: 11/09/2015

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Media last reviewed: 22/10/2014

Next review due: 22/10/2016

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