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Sex is part of a healthy life and part of your quality of life. It is safe for most people after they have had a heart attack.
After a heart attack, you can resume sexual activity when you are healthy and feel ready for it. You could be ready if you can do mild or moderate activity, like brisk walking, without having angina symptoms. Your doctor might tell you that if you can climb two flights of stairs without having any symptoms, you are healthy enough for sex. Or your doctor might want to do an exercise electrocardiogram to check the health of your heart before you have sex again.
Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.
If you had an angioplasty, you'll wait until your incisions heal. If you had a bypass surgery, you'll wait a few weeks to let your chest heal.
Some people are afraid to resume sexual activity after a heart attack. They are worried that they will have symptoms such as chest pain or will not have enough energy for sex. They also worry about having another heart attack.
The risk of having a heart attack during sex is low. Sex is the cause of less than 1 out of 100 heart attacks.footnote 1 This risk is low if you can do moderate activity without having angina symptoms such as chest pain or pressure.
Ask your doctor about your risk. He or she can help you know when your heart is healthy enough for the level of activity involved in sex.
Consider resuming sex gradually. You can start with ways of being intimate that are easy on your heart, like kissing and caressing. When you and your partner decide to start having sexual intercourse again, it might be helpful to keep in mind the following:
For both men and women, a heart problem can cause physical changes that lead to sexual problems. For example, some people have less interest in sex. Men may have erectile dysfunction. Women may have symptoms like vaginal dryness.
If you are having sexual problems, talk with your doctor about what treatments are right for you. Treatments may include counseling or medicine.
Talk with your doctor before trying an erection-enhancing medicine. Some medicines for erection problems can cause serious problems if you also use a nitrate medicine, such as nitroglycerin.
Tell your doctor about any concerns you have. Counseling might be an option for you and your partner. A doctor, nurse, or other health professional might provide this counseling. It may include information and advice on how to resume sex. It may include support or advice on how to relieve anxiety, worry, or fear about sex. It may include treatment for physical problems. The goal is to enjoy sex again.
CitationsLevine GN, et al. (2012). Sexual activity and cardiovascular disease: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 125(8): 1058-1072.Other Works ConsultedLevine GN, et al. (2012). Sexual activity and cardiovascular disease: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 125(8): 1058-1072.Steinke EE, et al. (2013). Sexual counseling for individuals with cardiovascular disease and their partners: A consensus document from the American Heart Association and the ESC Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professionals (CCNAP). Circulation. Published online July 29, 2013 (doi:10.1161/CIR.0b013e31829c2e53).
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, ElectrophysiologySpecialist Medical ReviewerGeorge Philippides, MD - Cardiology
Current as ofAugust 8, 2016
Current as of: August 8, 2016
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & George Philippides, MD - Cardiology
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