Sex is a very common concern among people with heart disease—one-half to three-quarters of people experience sexual problems after a heart event. Heart disease and the medications you take for your heart can affect your desire for sexual activity and your performance. Or perhaps the fear of straining your heart (or your partner’s heart), or even depression, may be getting in the way of intimacy. But there are ways you can improve your sex life even after a heart event.
Both men and women may have less sex or be less satisfied with the sex they have. So, it’s important to find a way to talk about sex with your doctor, even though it is common to be shy about bringing up the subject. But you shouldn’t let that stop you. Sex is a very important part of personal relationships, your quality of life, and your health.
In fact, some research shows more frequent sex is associated with a longer lifespan. This may be partly due to the fact that healthier people are more likely to have more frequent sex. So, because they are healthier to begin with, it would make sense that they live longer. But it is also possible that sex helps maintain good relationships and that, by having more sex, you may reap mental and emotional rewards such as stress management and a positive attitude —both of which may positively affect your health and lifespan.
Sexual activity is also physical activity, which may be another reason sex is associated with a longer, healthier lifespan. And once you’re cleared for physical activity, what’s good for your heart—physical activity along with a heart-healthy diet, and not smoking—is good for your sex life. Cardiac rehabilitation is a good place to find out more about becoming more physically active, or sexually active, after a heart event.
The most important thing is to keep communication lines open with your doctor and, of course, your partner. Make sure you clarify when it is okay to resume sexual activity and voice your concerns and questions relating to sexual activity. Having this conversation with your doctor is especially important if you had a heart attack or other cardiac event, of if you underwent a heart procedure. SecondsCount.org can help you begin to understand and communicate about this delicate subject so that you and your partner can re-establish and maintain intimacy.