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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The 6 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Small girl said on 27 August 2013

Can you have the implant if you have had epilepsy but do not have it anymore?

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Beaupor Limoilou said on 11 December 2012

Dr Edwards is confused with the purpose of contraceptives, When asked if a 60 year old (who has no worry of getting pregnant) still needs contraceptives the reply in the article is yes, for safe sex.

Safe sex uses both contraceptive and non-contraceptive devices such as dental dams. With no risk or pregnancy, indicating couples need to use contraceptives is confusing. They do NOT need to use contraceptives but they should practice safe sex which MAY include some contraceptive devices. Contraceptives are designed to prevent pregnancy and some contraceptives provide safer sex. The asrticle should also differentiate between Sex and Sexual Intercourse.

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Gray Line said on 11 June 2011

I am surprised that a GUM doctor can write it is important "use a condom to stay healthy". It is clear that condoms only reduce the risk of STIs and do not completely stop passing on or receiving a STI between partners. The idea that condoms keep everyone safe and healthy is wrong. This article should reflect how to reduce risk by practising safer sex. To be assured of staying completely healthy and avoiding all STIs the author should mention this is only possible by not having sex. In the same way, risk is increased by having more partners. Why is this not mentioned? Promoting condoms encourages more sex with more partners and therefore increases risk, even if this absolute risk is less than not practising safe sex. Written by a person with an STI after practising safe sex !

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jarla said on 25 March 2011

Is there such thing as Viagra for women! and if so where would sell it.

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Silver_Kiln said on 24 January 2011

I took a recent trip to India and was able to buy a years supply of Viagra without the unecessary need for a doctors prescription. The pharmacist checked my suitability with some simple questions. Why are these medicines restricted in the UK depriving men and couples a fulfilling sex life?

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User35639 said on 02 September 2008

During a recentl foreign holiday we were able to purchase Viagra in a local chemist. My husband and I have no wish to burden the NHS but would like to know if it is possible to purchase Viagra legally in the UK

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Media last reviewed: 22/10/2014

Next review due: 22/10/2016

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