From the ages of 40, 50 and over, we can all experience physical, emotional, psychological and social changes which can affect our sex lives.

People with demanding jobs and careers can find that themselves exhausted. Life events such as relationship or marriage breakdown, or redundancy can have an impact on sexual arousal and confidence.

Hormone levels also change. Around this time women will experience the perimenopause and then menopause which bring challenges for many.

Gay men can sometimes struggle with the values of actual or online communities, with a heavy emphasis on young, toned and fit bodies, which can lead to reduced confidence, body image issues and problems with low self-esteem.

The impact of some types of medication on our sexual health is often badly-understood, poorly discussed and can be devastating for individuals and couples.

Obesity, an increasing problem in later life, may affect your cholesterol level, blood pressure, general and sexual mobility, as well as self-image. This combination of psychological and physical compromise can provide a challenge during sex.

The years when we are between 40 and 50 is also the time when our children, if we have them, hit the mid and late teens. This inhabits us in what we do sexually, especially if they are just on the other side of a thin wall. Parental self-consciousness in front of teenagers can reduce displays of intimacy or affection. As young adults leave home, lack of privacy isn’t such a big issue, leaving more space for emotional and sexual intimacy, but by then you may have established a pattern of limited sexual contact.

Some couples in this life phase find it impossible to reconnect and rediscover each other.  Available space may have been filled by routines, interests or friends. The need to grasp new beginnings and make alterations to rediscover intimacy may feel overwhelming without professional help. Many relationships struggle and sometimes end in these years.

Retirement is another significant challenge, with role change and an increase in time spent at home with a partner. Sometimes, at this same life stage, a couple’s elderly parents need looking after which may increase our emotional and practical workload. A different level of demand on partners can easily become a source of tension and conflict.

When relationships do break down, the challenges of new relationships, both the rebuilding of emotional intimacy bonds and renegotiating sex, can be daunting. Having confidence in older bodies affected by pregnancy and childbirth, or altered by illness, accident or surgery may be diminished. Learning to relax and enjoy sexual contact with a new partner can be difficult.

New ways of dating and meeting potential partners, for example through apps or on social media, can be scary for older people who might not have experienced it before. This can lead to people becoming isolated.

People who ‘come out’ as gay, lesbian or bisexual in later life may also feel isolated by new technology.

We want to support and encourage everyone who wants it to have a healthy and happy sex life.