How soon is sex safe after a heart attack?

By June Shannon Heart News   |   19th Jun 2018

How soon after a heart attack is it safe to resume your sex life?

At the Irish Heart Foundation, we aim to provide accurate and evidence-based information on heart health to help you make informed decisions about your health. One of the questions we get asked a lot is how soon after a heart attack is it safe to resume your sex life?

Sexual activity is an important aspect of adult life and it can be central to maintaining quality of life.

It is understandable that people who have suffered a heart attack may be cautious about resuming their sex life. However, according to Irish Heart Foundation expert helpline nurse Bernadette Bergin, in most cases it safe to resume your sex life two to four weeks after your heart attack.

“Some people will be ready before others. Unless you’ve been advised otherwise by your doctor or specialist nurse, I would suggest that if you are able to walk up two flights of stairs without experiencing any problems, such as shortness of breath, chest pain or an abnormal heart rhythm, then you are usually physically able to resume your sex life.”

Bernadette advised that those who suffered complications while in hospital following their heart attack may need to wait a bit longer before having sex and should also seek medical advice.

“You may also need to have an exercise stress test to see if sexual activity is safe for you. You should discuss this with your doctor,” she said.

 

"In most cases it safe to resume your sex life two to four weeks after your heart attack."

Bernadette Bergin, Helpline Nurse , Irish Heart Foundation

It is important to note that your partner may also be anxious about your health and may even be overprotective. Try to talk about how you’re both feeling. Evidence would suggest that couples who discuss their concerns seem to cope better, Bernadette advised.

“When you do resume your sex life you may find that cuddling, kissing and caressing is a more comfortable way to start. Then if you feel at ease you can progress, when you feel ready. This does not mean it has to be immediately; don’t put pressure on yourself to perform. When you do progress, you then may find it more comfortable to use a position which doesn’t restrict your breathing. Also, be mindful of the fact that the on-top position requires more energy. If you experience any chest pain, stop and rest.”

"Your partner may also be anxious about your health and may even be overprotective,"

Bernadette Bergin, Helpline Nurse, Irish Heart Foundation

Finally, Bernadette explained that the physical changes that happened when you had your heart attack can also affect your sex life.

“Problems with your circulation can reduce the amount of blood flow to your sex organs. Some men may develop erectile difficulties and some women can find the reduced blood flow has affected vaginal arousal and lubrication. Some medicines you’re taking can also cause a similar effect. Talk to your doctor about this and discuss what options are available for you.”

If you have any questions you can contact the free Irish Heart Foundation’s National Heart and Stroke Nurse helpline for more information.

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heart attack heart disease sexual activity

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