Sex and intimate relationships

11. Sexual health

Some health problems and medications can affect sexual pleasure and performance. If either partner has joint pain or arthritis, their local physiotherapy department should be able to suggest ways to make sex more comfortable. If either partner has recently had an operation or had a heart attack, take the consultant's advice before having sex. They may advise to wait until after they have discharged or 'signed off' the patient. This is usually about eight weeks after treatment.
People of all ages who are sexually active are at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and STIs in older people are increasing. Any sign of unusual discharge, itchiness, discomfort, or any blisters, sores, spots or lumps around the genitals or anus should be checked with your GP. Many people with STIs do not have symptoms. If you've had unprotected sex but feel healthy it is still important to get tested. It is also important to remember the need for good hygiene to avoid the risk of infection for both partners.
Anyone starting a new relationship, or people in a long-term relationship who haven't already done so, should have a discussion about safe sex. Speak to your GP in confidence, or alternatively seek information and advice on safe sex from health centres and websites such as NHS Choices.