• Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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    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.

  • More About Sexual Activity and Your Heart

    Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

    Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem in men with heart disease. ED is a complicated problem that involves the brain, hormones, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and emotions. But talking about it with your doctor will help you find the underlying causes so that you may start looking for solutions.

    How to Be Intimate Without Having Sex

    Even if you are not yet able to be sexually active while your heart mends, it is still possible to feel close to your partner. Try some of these ways to build intimacy while nurturing your relationship as well as your heart health.

    How to Support Your Partner

    When your partner has heart disease, it can make you nearly sick with worry if you let it. Instead, look for ways you can channel your concern into support for your partner. Here are some tips that may be helpful to your loved one.

    Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Sexual Activity and Heart Disease

    The following questions can help you talk to your physician about your sexual activity concerns.

    Resources on Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

    For more information on sexual activity and heart disease, check with your local hospital or community health center and visit these useful websites.

    Tips for Reconnecting With Your Partner After a Heart Event or Procedure

    After you have had a heart event, you may be feeling many different emotions, including fear, sadness, and vulnerability. Sometimes you may want to clam up and withdraw from your partner, but being open and honest is the first step toward helping each other through this difficult time. Here are some other steps.

    Why Am I Not In the Mood?

    There are many reasons you may not be in the mood for sexual activity with your partner. Once you are able to identify which of these factors may be affecting you, it can help you know where to begin discussions about your sexual activity with your partner and your doctor.