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I have herpes and my partner and I have lost our libido

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She insists I wear a condom and is going through the menopause, leading to dryness, and I am experiencing premature ejaculation

My partner and I have been together for 15 years but the sex has always been a bit hit and miss. I get occasional bouts of herpes and as she is, understandably, worried about it, she insists I use a condom, which I hate. She has also been going through her menopause, leading to dryness and tightness. Neither of us has any libido and, to top it all, I have become a premature ejaculator.

As you and your partner have discovered, physical changes associated with ageing, health issues or infection can have profound effects on intimacy. But people who dont work on the sexual aspect of their relationship miss out on the pleasure, relaxation and comfort that sex can provide. I can understand if it seems overwhelming, because you have multiple challenges, but, individually, none is a big problem.

Early ejaculation can be treated, and it is important to address this as soon as possible because it is probably a primary underlying reason for your stated loss of libido. Herpes outbreaks and condom-use can certainly diminish desire, so it would help enormously if you could manage to reframe both as mere inconveniences.

The problem of vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes, which your partner is experiencing, can be addressed in a number of ways, through hormone supplements, creams or lubrication, and by changing your lovemaking technique to whatever is most comfortable for her. Be frank, and express your willingness to try to return to a more comfortable, anxiety-free erotic connection.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please dont send attachments).

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/07/i-have-herpes-partner-lost-libido-condom-menopause-premature-ejaculation

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