How to be a super-ager: Experts reveal tips for staying healthy, full of vigour and young

LOVE IS THE DRUG TO KEEP YOU YOUNG

By Bel Mooney

Relationships take on a particular significance as we get older.

Indeed, a survey by the charity Relate found 83 per cent of over-50s believe that relationships are the most important factor in a happy later life.

They’re right. More than one study has shown that marriage is good for health. In 2016, for example, a team of academics from British universities estimated that married people were 14 per cent less likely to die after a heart attack than singletons.

For more and more people, the issue is not maintaining a strong personal relationship, but finding love for the second time. There are, according to the Office for National Statistics, 1.3 million people over 60 who are divorced — a figure that has tripled in the past 20 years, possibly due to a loss of the stigma associated with ending a marriage.

Bel Mooney shared advice for finding love a second time around. She says you can damage your chances of finding new love by focusing too much on appearance, income or age (file image)

Bel Mooney shared advice for finding love a second time around. She says you can damage your chances of finding new love by focusing too much on appearance, income or age (file image)

Bel Mooney shared advice for finding love a second time around. She says you can damage your chances of finding new love by focusing too much on appearance, income or age (file image)

A second marriage or late-life relationship can seem like a ‘triumph of hope over experience’, in the words of the 18th-century sage Samuel Johnson.

After a divorce or bereavement, people in middle-age (and older) often rebel against tiptoeing into old age alone and long to walk hand-in-hand with a loving companion. It’s a sweet thought. But it might not be so easy.

How hard is it to ‘recover’ from loss — whether through death or separation? And, once you have, how do you meet new people?

Getting back into dating can often lead to disappointment and even acute demoralisation. But the search for love a second time around starts because the heart will always seek a home.

So, how to go about it?

Forget your usual ‘type’

It always bothers me when I read the conditions people attach to hoped-for partners. A woman will write that she ‘only’ likes ‘tall men’ — but she has only to look at Rod Stewart and his taller wife Penny Lancaster (clearly blissfully married) to realise that height has nothing to do with happiness.

Meanwhile, there are men (too many) who have reached their 60s or 70s, yet look for girlfriends in their 40s. Get real. Why miss out on the perfect companion — good-looking, loving, sharing his interests — just because they happen to be a vivacious 58?

Deciding that you will only consider someone who fits narrow-minded requirements based on appearance, income or age will only damage your chances of finding a new love.

Consider whether it’s your heart or your vanity laying down the law. And realise that somebody who doesn’t share your interests could well prove the old adage that opposites attract.

Bel suggests firstly considering how you can recreate your self before attempting to meet someone new. She suggests freshening your hairstyle and critiquing your wardrobe (file image)

Bel suggests firstly considering how you can recreate your self before attempting to meet someone new. She suggests freshening your hairstyle and critiquing your wardrobe (file image)

Bel suggests firstly considering how you can recreate your self before attempting to meet someone new. She suggests freshening your hairstyle and critiquing your wardrobe (file image)

I’ve witnessed unlikely, but very happy, unions between people who might be described as ‘an odd couple’ (that actually fits my second husband and me, as he loves motorbikes and I’m a book addict!). All of us need to open our minds to the infinite possibilities out there — and not lock doors without bothering to see what lies behind them first.

Time to reveal a new you . . .

Internet dating sites are often daunting for older people — and they’re pretty scary for younger folk, too. I know people who have had good experiences and others who hated the whole business, so all I can say is that it’s worth giving it a try.

The question ‘why not?’ should be at the heart of your search for new love. Why not give internet dating a whirl — but then, for heaven’s sake, also step away from the computer and go out!

Why not join, say, The Ramblers walking charity? Even if you’re usually lazy, you’ll turn over a new leaf, meet people and keep fit. Or investigate the University of the Third Age and get the brain cells fit, too. Learn a new language. Volunteer. Trying out new activities and joining clubs are staples of advice columnists’ counsel — for very good reason. This is all about making yourself more interesting. If you make the decision to try to find a new partner, you first have to get creative with your own life.

If you dream about the excitement and joy new love can bring, then first consider how you can recreate your very own self.

After all, that’s the easy place to start . . . making yourself anew. If that means a fresh hairstyle or casting a critical eye over your wardrobe, so be it.

I am always astonished to read (in Femail Magazine’s Blind Date column, for example) that men will turn up looking scruffy to meet a new lady. Get your act together! If you want to find love, make an effort.

Bel warns that focusing on a spark rather than friendship can reduce the chances of finding lasting love (file image) 

Bel warns that focusing on a spark rather than friendship can reduce the chances of finding lasting love (file image) 

Bel warns that focusing on a spark rather than friendship can reduce the chances of finding lasting love (file image) 

Don’t worry about a spark

So many people despair of meeting ‘The One’ — when he or she might well be somebody they know already.

Sometimes, old friends can turn into life companions (I don’t use the cliché ‘lovers’, as too much emphasis on sex is potentially damaging) and you wonder why you never noticed how special that person was.

Friendship is at the heart of this whole subject, because it’s one of the four ancient Greek words used for love (philia). The others are affection (storge), passion or romance (eros) and charity (agape).

So I find it really sad that so many older people become obsessed with romance (usually women) and sex (usually men) when these are obstacles to finding a good relationship.

Again and again, my Saturday advice column in the Mail reveals how these ‘romantic’ delusions can get in the way of finding contentment a second time around — if you are not interested in friendship, you are unlikely to find lasting love.

Older people who go on one date and then leave it ‘because there was no spark’ might be missing a trick.

Think of the difference when you make a platonic friend. Do you expect bells and whistles when you pal up with a new person? No, you get to know them and realise that, even if you are different, you can enjoy each other’s company.

When it comes to dating, instead of expecting lightning bolts, try to realise the value of thinking: ‘I may not love you (yet), but I like you.’

Bel claims people who cling to preconceived notions are destined to be disappointed and to experience pain (file image) 

Bel claims people who cling to preconceived notions are destined to be disappointed and to experience pain (file image) 

Bel claims people who cling to preconceived notions are destined to be disappointed and to experience pain (file image) 

And, on the subject of liking, ask how much you like yourself. Would you be your own friend? It’s a good question before you put yourself out there.

Celebrate the fact you’ve changed

All of us change as we become older and it’s vital to learn that such shifts in how we look and feel are positives.

Yes, there are wrinkles — but you can make the best of yourself. Yes, there’s a bit of a paunch — but that’s nothing a bit of exercise and a good diet won’t put right. No, you don’t look the same or feel as sexy as you used to — but honestly, aren’t you much more confident and fun?

I believe we can all reinvent ourselves — and that it is exciting (as well as essential) to accept that we are not the same people we were at age 20 or 30.

If you cling tightly to old notions, old delusions, you’ll be dragged down 

Given the option, would you go back and repeat your mistakes? Or would you rather look forward and celebrate the fact that, through all the stages of our lives, we shift, change, develop, grow?

That’s why people who cling to their preconceived notions (‘Oh, I’ve always had a weakness for bad boys’) are doomed to disappointment and pain.

If you cling tightly to old notions, old delusions, you’ll be dragged down. Cast them off and you’re liberated to float towards new experiences and (hopefully) new love.

If I were you, I’d take up a stretching and breathing exercise such as Pilates, too, as it will improve essential flexibility — in body and soul. I’m serious.

Chill out – don’t rush things 

Don’t succumb to desperation. Learn to like your own company and you will be more at ease with others, too. Of course, older people hear Father Time’s footsteps and want to rush into the next stage. Life is, indeed, short — but all the more reason to use time wisely.

As the Daily Mail’s advice columnist, I receive letters from people so eager to find a second wife/husband/life companion that they rush in where angels would counsel patience. My advice: chill out! Live in the moment. Cherish companionship before you hustle for hugs.

If the person you’ve fallen for is recovering after bereavement, you must understand that the old love will always be present.

Encourage memories and stories of that other person. If you become impatient or jealous, you will kill the new love before it’s had a chance to spread its feathers.

Those coming back to life after divorce need time, too. They will not take well to being frogmarched into forgetting what came before.

I once apologised to my second husband for talking about my first and he said: ‘Why wouldn’t you . . . after all that time?’ What a wise man.

Bel says it's easy to be deluded into thinking sex is a necessity, but she believes cuddles are more important than copulation (file image)

Bel says it's easy to be deluded into thinking sex is a necessity, but she believes cuddles are more important than copulation (file image)

Bel says it’s easy to be deluded into thinking sex is a necessity, but she believes cuddles are more important than copulation (file image)

We all carry our pasts with us and the wise soul understands the richness of all experience. If your new companion has been hurt by a past relationship, you will help by listening and encouraging them to focus on the present.

That way, they will join you in baby steps towards the affectionate companionship — being what Charles Dickens called ‘a comfortable couple’ — that heals the heart.

Secrets to a long relationship

Nobody ever said marriage was easy. Surveys show it’s good for your health — but I can already hear those who feel trapped in a less-than-happy union saying: ‘Yeah, right!’

Many marriages run into trouble early on, when romance has died, children cause stress, bills pile up and, suddenly, the longed-for state of matrimony feels like a prison.

That stage is dangerous, but can be weathered, especially if a couple learns to share everything from childcare and domestic chores to emotional worries.

This may sound obvious, yet it’s far from clear how to sustain a loving relationship through the decades. There is no magic formula, although (obviously) sharing and talking is key.

How can a couple reconnect with each other through the years? In fact, I believe all my essential rules for finding love a second time around can be applied within long-term relationships, too.

Being flexible, accepting that each of you is changing, trying new things (and I am not talking about sexual positions!), learning together, being the best of tolerant friends, supporting each other in different interests, making an effort with how you look . . . all are just as important in long-lasting loves as in a new courtship.

Finally, no marriage will succeed unless you put your partner first 

The miraculous thing about successful marriages is their ability to change and stay the same, so that the couple sees within each other the man and woman who fell in love, as well as rejoicing in the maturity of ever-changing faces, figures and minds.

But how do you go on living with serious imperfection? The straight answer is that if a couple know they are bad for each other — and possibly for their children, too — they should seek counselling.

It really can work — even if it only helps them part in a civilised manner. But, to be positive, long relationships can be remade, as a couple realises that being ‘out there’ alone might be a lot worse than working to improve what they have. That means — of course — talking, talking, talking.

If sex is an issue then, again, counselling is a very good idea, rather than just suffering in frustrated silence.

Here, I would add one note of reassurance. In our highly sexualised society, older men and women can be deluded into thinking sex is a necessity, a right and absolutely essential to a happy relationship. Actually, it’s not.

You would be surprised how many devoted couples are quite relieved to reach companionable security in the peace and quiet of their cosy double bed.

With all due respect to sex therapists, I’d murmur subversively that cuddles are more important than copulation.

Finally, no marriage will succeed unless you put your partner first.

That means treating them as you wish to be treated, listening as you long to be listened to, having no important secrets and understanding the meaning of ‘in sickness and in health’.

All long-lasting marriages, especially where parenthood is involved, include equal self-sacrifice, mutual respect and ongoing effort, to the very end.

GETTING HITCHED IN OUR 70S GAVE US A NEW LEASE OF LIFE 

By Alison Roberts

Geoffrey Morton proposed to his wife, June, at the top of the Eiffel Tower. As fellow tourists offered congratulations and took pictures, the couple toasted one another with champagne and gazed out over Paris.

It was an intensely romantic moment. Yet Geoffrey and June aren’t millennial backpackers or even fortysomething divorcees.

Geoffrey was 78 when he got down on one knee — a risky manoeuvre for plenty of men his age — while June was 73.

‘Getting married has definitely made me feel younger,’ says Geoffrey, a former publisher, who’s now 82. ‘What’s happened to us feels like a lovely, but unexpected, surprise.’

Geoffrey Morton, 82, (pictured with his wife June) met his now wife June at their retirement village in Taunton.  He was married to his wife Freda for 53 years before becoming a widow and marrying June 

Geoffrey Morton, 82, (pictured with his wife June) met his now wife June at their retirement village in Taunton.  He was married to his wife Freda for 53 years before becoming a widow and marrying June 

Geoffrey Morton, 82, (pictured with his wife June) met his now wife June at their retirement village in Taunton.  He was married to his wife Freda for 53 years before becoming a widow and marrying June 

When they met at their retirement village in Taunton, Somerset, both Geoffrey and June were still married. Yet, by 2012, both had been widowed.

‘I was married to Freda for 53 years, and June to Tom for 42,’ says Geoffrey. ‘To an extent, when June and I got together we’d already lived one life.’

In the aftermath of loss, neither was looking for a new partner, but events kept throwing them together: both were members of the village residents’ committee and active in the local church.

It was curiosity about the world that really connected them.

‘I’ve always loved travelling and so has June,’ says Geoffrey. ‘We’ve been round the world twice and we’re always planning the next trip.

‘Travelling as a couple is much better than going on your own. I did that after losing Freda and I missed an awful lot because there was no one to share thoughts with.’

Not that they live in each other’s pockets. ‘If one of us wants to do something by ourselves, that’s fine,’ says Geoffrey. ‘We’re quite happy to let each other be independent.

We wanted to get married, but we weren’t sure how the children would feel, especially about the inheritance side of things 

‘We do both keep an eye on each other, though. I can’t imagine June ever nagging, but if, say, she’s got a concern about my health, she’s got her way of making it clear that I need to take it seriously, too.’

Between them, they have four children: a son and a daughter each, all of whom were consulted before the wedding in 2014, and seven grandchildren, aged from five to 29.

‘It was the one thing that troubled us. We wanted to get married, but we weren’t sure how the children would feel, especially about the inheritance side of things.’

Following legal advice — June had been a legal secretary before she retired — they decided to keep their estates separate,with each going to their own sides of the family when the time comes.

Everyone gave their blessing and, on the big day, Geoffrey’s son was his best man and June’s daughter her matron of honour.

‘It was a wonderful day — and it’s remained wonderful,’ says Geoffrey. ‘We had a job trying to squeeze all our belongings into one home, but we managed it, and, on our first day, I carried June over the threshold.’

SEX IS THE PERFECT ANTI-AGER. BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN IT GOES WRONG?

by Anna Hodgekiss 

When we age, ‘sex doesn’t disappear, it just changes forms’, said the novelist Erica Jong. And, contrary to popular belief, it may change for the better.

Research published by King’s College London looking at women’s libido found some women’s sexual function actually improved after the menopause.

Lead researcher Tim Spector, a professor of epidemiology, calls the results of the four-year study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2015, ‘a little surprising’. ‘By modifying your life and attitudes towards desire, you can change things sometimes surprisingly for the better, although you are older,’ he says.

There is also no doubt that, for others, sex becomes less important.

The good news is that if sex matters to you, research shows it can actually help to ward off the diseases that can blight old age, such as heart disease, and improve brain function.

Anna Hodgekiss revealed frequent sexual activity can have both physical and psychological health benefits (file image)

Anna Hodgekiss revealed frequent sexual activity can have both physical and psychological health benefits (file image)

Anna Hodgekiss revealed frequent sexual activity can have both physical and psychological health benefits (file image)

When it comes to the heart, it seems the benefits are both physical and psychological. A study involving 40-to-70-year-old men, published in the American Journal of Cardiology in 2010, found men who had sex at least twice a week were less likely to develop heart disease, compared with men who had sex once a month or less.

The research said this might be because sex has both a direct physical benefit (as a form of exercise), but also an emotional effect. The thinking is that regular sex means a man is in a supportive intimate relationship and the support and stress reduction this provides can boost health.

More frequent sexual activity has also been linked to improved brain function in older adults, according to a study published by the universities of Coventry and Oxford last year.

Researchers found that people who engaged in more regular sexual activity scored higher on tests that measured their vocabulary and their ability to perceive objects and the spaces between them.

Meanwhile, research published this year found that sexually active couples perform better in memory tests in middle-age.

So, there it is: sex is anti-ageing. The problem is that, while the spirit may be willing, the ageing flesh can be weak. Here, experts set out the problems that could be sabotaging your sex life — and what you can do about them . . .

WOMEN

For women, many physical problems stem from hormonal changes related to the menopause. Contrary to popular belief, though, menopause doesn’t have to end your sex life, says Dr Heather Currie, a gynaecologist at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary in Scotland.

‘The main problem is that many women are too embarrassed to talk about their menopausal symptoms to get them sorted,’ she explains.

LOST LIBIDO

It could be your hormones. It’s not just oestrogen levels that fall with the menopause — so, too, does the hormone progesterone, which stimulates production of another sex hormone, testosterone. (Testosterone is usually associated with men, but women produce small amounts, too, and it is key to their sex drive.)

The reduced levels of oestrogen also play a role, affecting your sensation and the ability to orgasm. Oestrogen helps the body produce collagen, a protein that keeps tissues healthy, and is needed for lubrication. A lack of it means that the tissues can thin, weaken and shrink, which can make sex uncomfortable.

Dr Catherine Hood advises women who've lost their libido to have more sex as it can increase how much you want it (file image) 

Dr Catherine Hood advises women who've lost their libido to have more sex as it can increase how much you want it (file image) 

Dr Catherine Hood advises women who’ve lost their libido to have more sex as it can increase how much you want it (file image) 

What you can do: It may seem difficult to believe, but the more you have sex, the more you want it, says Dr Catherine Hood, a psychosexual medicine expert working in the NHS. But, as you get older, it’s important to make time for intimacy and foreplay as spontaneous desire is more likely to have faded, she adds.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which helps to restore a woman’s levels of oestrogen and progesterone, can also bring back a woman’s sex drive.

Some doctors also believe taking testosterone in the form of a gel, patch or implant can improve a woman’s libido. This is available only via an ‘off-label’ prescription at your GP’s discretion and you may have to pay for private treatment to get it.

DISCOMFORT

This can be due to vaginal dryness that tends to occur after oestrogen levels fall during the menopause. The tissues become thinner and prone to irritation.

Painful sex can also be a sign of other gynaecological conditions, including pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts or cancer, so see your GP if you are worried.

What you can do: Dr Currie recommends internal moisturisers — pessaries that slowly release a variety of soothing ingredients such as aloe vera over a few days. For a more immediate solution, there are lubricants that can be bought over-the-counter, though some can be prescribed. HRT may also restore vaginal health.

However, if the main menopausal symptom is vaginal dryness, the use of vaginal oestrogen, rather than an HRT pill, can be more effective. Indeed, it may be needed even if HRT is being taken. Vaginal oestrogen is available as a pessary, a cream or an internal ring and can be prescribed by your GP.

Some studies have shown that plant-based therapies taken as supplements can provide modest reductions in dryness.

Vaginal oestrogen which can be prescribed by your GP may be needed even if taking HRT, to relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness (file image) 

Vaginal oestrogen which can be prescribed by your GP may be needed even if taking HRT, to relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness (file image) 

Vaginal oestrogen which can be prescribed by your GP may be needed even if taking HRT, to relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness (file image) 

An analysis of more than 60 studies in 2016 by Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, found soya and soya extracts, as well as herbal remedies including red clover, can reduce dryness.

Fennel, in supplement form, is also a safe, effective treatment, said a study last year by the North American Menopause Society.

BLADDER PROBLEMS

Discomfort during sex can also be linked to chronic cystitis, to which women are more prone around the menopause.

The urethra can narrow, thus encouraging bacteria up into the bladder, explains Richard Viney, a consultant urological surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, and The Bladder Clinic in Solihull.

‘We also see changes at a cellular level, with the immune system becoming less effective,’ he says.

What you can do: ‘There is no need to suffer in silence,’ says Mr Viney. ‘If the behaviour of your bladder is changing, seek an opinion from your doctor to rule out other causes.’

Treatments are aimed at reversing these changes. ‘Use of lubricants for intercourse and a greater emphasis on hygiene can help,’ he says.

However, often, he adds, other options are needed, including HRT — either as a pill or in the form of a pessary.

But forget cranberry juice for cystitis. ‘Over-the-counter, there is better evidence to support D-mannose, a sugar (taken as tablets or powder) that interferes with bacterial adherence to the bladder wall, and sodium or potassium citrate (found in standard over-the-counter cystitis relief powders), which alter the urinary pH to the disadvantage of bacteria,’ he says.

Physiotherapy and pelvic floor exercises can be used to overcome incontinence, however severe cases may require surgery (file image) 

Physiotherapy and pelvic floor exercises can be used to overcome incontinence, however severe cases may require surgery (file image) 

Physiotherapy and pelvic floor exercises can be used to overcome incontinence, however severe cases may require surgery (file image) 

‘For some patients, we offer bladder cocktails — solutions we wash into the bladder to reinvigorate and protect the lining from bacteria.

‘Ultimately, for some, we offer long-term, low-dose antibiotics to prevent recurring infections.’

INCONTINENCE

Incontinence is often associated with childbirth, but you don’t need to have had children to experience it. In fact, many women don’t have problems until after the menopause.

It’s usually caused by weakness in the sphincter muscle, most commonly as a result of damage to the nerves, but also because the surrounding muscles and tissues weaken as a result of the drop in oestrogen around the menopause.

What you can do: Physiotherapy and pelvic floor exercises — sometimes called Kegels — can really help (see next page).

Sex is a great form of pelvic floor exercise and it ensures a regular supply of blood to the area, keeping tissues healthy and functioning effectively.

In fact, avoiding sex can make things worse, says Dr Jane Woyka, a GP with a specialist interest in the menopause based in North West London.

In more severe cases, women may need surgery to repair the pelvic floor.

MEN

As men get older, they experience two main sexual health problems: flagging libido and erectile dysfunction. By the age of 40, around 40 per cent of men are affected by erectile dysfunction at some point; by 70, it’s 70 per cent, according to a major U.S. study.

This can be due to a number of factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, which is why it should be investigated.

Suks Minhas advises men who have a flagging libido and erectile dysfunction to lose weight in order to boost testosterone levels (file image) 

Suks Minhas advises men who have a flagging libido and erectile dysfunction to lose weight in order to boost testosterone levels (file image) 

Suks Minhas advises men who have a flagging libido and erectile dysfunction to lose weight in order to boost testosterone levels (file image) 

‘Erectile dysfunction can be the first sign of heart disease because tiny blood vessels in the penis can become furred up first,’ says Suks Minhas, a consultant andrologist (male health expert) at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London. Another possible underlying cause is diabetes — high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves, including those that supply the sexual organs.

As well as affecting sensation, it may cause erection problems.

Some treatments for prostate cancer can also damage these nerves and blood vessels. Usually, the effect is temporary, although in some men, it can be permanent.

Hormone treatments for prostate cancer can also affect a man’s sex drive, as they lower the amount of the male sex hormone testosterone in the body; prostate cancer cells usually need testosterone to grow.

What you can do: Losing weight is the first step. ‘This can help get high cholesterol and high blood pressure under control and help with testosterone levels,’ says Mr Minhas.

Abdominal fat produces toxins that effectively ‘switch off’ the production of testosterone, which affects their libido. These also convert testosterone to the female hormone oestrogen, which is why men get ‘man boobs’. Improved testosterone levels should also improve erectile function.

First among medical options for impotence are drugs called PDE5 inhibitors, such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. They all work in the same way, dilating blood vessels supplying blood to the penis.

Viagra and Levitra are short-acting and can work within one hour, wearing off after four to six; Cialis takes two hours to work, but can be effective for 24 hours.

Men can now also buy Viagra over-the-counter, providing they meet certain criteria (it won’t be sold to men with severe heart disease or those on medications with which it could interfere).

Suks Minhas claims men with diabetes may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy based on recent research (file image)

Suks Minhas claims men with diabetes may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy based on recent research (file image)

Suks Minhas claims men with diabetes may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy based on recent research (file image)

When tablets don’t work, other options include injections of the drug alprostadil into the penis. These injections relax the muscles and blood vessels, while helping to keep blood in this area.

They can be prescribed by a GP and the patient injects himself.

There’s another type of injection — usually prescribed by a urologist, rather than a GP — called Invicorp, which can be less painful.

Vacuum pumps and penile implants are the final options.

IS THERE MALE HRT?

There has been much talk in recent years about the ‘male menopause’. The theory is that men’s testosterone levels plummet from their 40s and 50s, leading to symptoms such as low libido, low mood and a lack of energy.

Proponents claim giving middle-aged men testosterone replacement can transform their libido. Prescriptions have leapt by around 20 per cent since 2012, costing the NHS £20 million a year.

But it is a controversial area, with some experts warning the jabs are being used as a ‘lifestyle drug’ and could increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even issued a warning about the possible connection between testosterone therapy and increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The warning was based on research published in the journal PLOS One.

However, other studies suggest that it may have a beneficial effect. Research published in 2016 in the American Journal of Cardiology reported testosterone therapy helped to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in older men with low testosterone levels who were suffering from severe coronary artery disease.

And Mr Minhas says: ‘Research also shows that men with diabetes can benefit from testosterone replacement therapy if they have a low reading.’ 

EXERCISES TO PUT THE VA-VA-VOOM INTO YOUR LOVE LIFE

Pelvic floor exercises can make a real difference to both men and women —helping with many of the problems that can see sex drive evaporate, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

But the exercises will help only if they’re done properly. Here we reveal how to master the techniques . . .

The muscles you need to train

For women: To identify your pelvic floor correctly, pull up and in as if you’re trying to stop passing wind and urine at the same time.

There are different muscle fibres that make up the pelvic floor and each needs a slightly different version of this exercise.

Any woman new to pelvic floor exercise, or who has symptoms such as leaking urine when laughing, should do a set of these exercises three to six times a day. This can be reduced to once a day when women feel they’re getting better at them or symptoms reduce.

You could see results in just weeks, but you do need to persist — as soon as you stop, you lose that tone.

The charity Prostate Cancer advises men to exercise the muscles around the back passage for five seconds to improve their pelvic floor (file image)

The charity Prostate Cancer advises men to exercise the muscles around the back passage for five seconds to improve their pelvic floor (file image)

The charity Prostate Cancer advises men to exercise the muscles around the back passage for five seconds to improve their pelvic floor (file image)

First, do a maximum contraction and hold for ten seconds — then repeat ten times, leaving a gap of four seconds between each to allow the muscle to relax. Then do ten quick contractions at the rate of one per second.

Finally, squeeze as hard as you can and then let the muscles go half way; then contract to that level ten times leaving 20-second gaps.

For men: To identify the muscles, sit relaxed, and tighten the muscle around the back passage, as if trying to control wind. Do not tighten your thighs or buttocks. Then imagine you’re trying to stop yourself passing urine. You should feel a dip at the base of the penis, while the scrotum moves up slightly.

Slowly tighten and pull up the pelvic floor muscles as hard as you can for as long as possible — the charity Prostate Cancer suggests five seconds, but says that if, when you let go, you can’t feel the muscles relax, you’ve held for too long. If this is the case, try again for a shorter time to find your ‘level’.

Then, tighten the pelvic floor muscles for your length of hold, relax and rest for five seconds. Repeat five times. As it becomes easier, increase the length of hold and number of repeats. Aim to do the exercise at least five times a day.

The gadgets that can help

While everyone should do pelvic floor exercises, many people still struggle to master them alone, as the muscles can be hard to isolate. Here Amanda Savage, a spokesperson for the Professional Network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy, suggests some of the best gadgets to help.

Squeezy NHS App

£2.99, squeezyapp.co.uk

Kegel8 V For Men Pelvic Toner (pictured) is a stimulator that exercises the pelvic floor for you 

Kegel8 V For Men Pelvic Toner (pictured) is a stimulator that exercises the pelvic floor for you 

Kegel8 V For Men Pelvic Toner (pictured) is a stimulator that exercises the pelvic floor for you 

This app, for men and women, encourages you to do pelvic floor exercises in sync with the movement of a bubble on the screen.

It also has visual prompts to tell you when to do each one, which can be set at a slow or fast level or be modified to fit in with any pelvic floor exercises given to you by a physiotherapist.

Kegel8 V For Men Pelvic Toner

£149.99, kegel8.co.uk

A stimulator that does pelvic floor exercises for you.

An insertable probe, or pads on the skin, fire electrical impulses to make the pelvic muscles contract. Use once or twice a day, depending on the severity of symptoms.

Elvie Pelvic Floor Trainer

£169, elvie.com

A sensor-packed device that’s inserted into the vagina and removed with a small handle.

You clench your muscles around it in five-minute workouts designed to ‘lift and tone’. The sensors check you’re exerting the right pressure.

Elvie Pelvic Floor Trainer (pictured) can be used by women as it works out the muscles inside the vagina 

Elvie Pelvic Floor Trainer (pictured) can be used by women as it works out the muscles inside the vagina 

Elvie Pelvic Floor Trainer (pictured) can be used by women as it works out the muscles inside the vagina 

Homecraft Aquaflex Weighted Vaginal Cones

£23.50, boots.com

This comprises two different sized vaginal cones, with a separate set of weights.

A weight is placed in the cone, which is inserted in the same way as a tampon. This causes the pelvic floor muscles to contract around it automatically, toning the muscles.

As your pelvic floor becomes stronger, you will be able to add more weights and increase the time you are able to keep the cone in place, for up to 20 minutes per day.

Innovo For Men

£249 from restorethe floor.com and selected Lloyds Pharmacy branches

This electrically stimulates a man’s pelvic floor muscles to cause them to contract, explains physiotherapist Gerard Greene.

It consists of two Velcro wraps that sit around the top of each leg and buttock; the wraps are connected by a wire to a chargeable controller that fires electrical impulses at the pelvic floor.

You use the device for 30 minutes a day, five times a week for 12 weeks. 

Herbal help for men and women 

Rhodiola rosea is a herb that has been used for centuries to relieve stress and boost energy. But it can also boost low sex drive caused predominantly by stress, in both men and women, according to research led by Dr David Edwards, an Oxfordshire-based GP with an interest in sexual health, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2016. The supplement is available on the High Street. 

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