Sex has many physical and emotional benefits. In most cases, it is supportive of good cardiovascular health. It can also improve a person’s mood, enhance their connection with their partner, and improve their overall quality of life. As such, people may be understandably motivated to remain sexually active for as long as it is safe and does not pose a danger to their health.
If you have heart disease, it is natural to experience some apprehension about engaging in physical activities, including sex. Fortunately, according to the American Heart Association, it is probably safe to have sex when you have heart disease, as long as your condition has stabilized. Nevertheless, it is important to always follow the advice of your cardiologist or internal medicine/family medicine clinician as he or she is more familiar with your condition and your overall state of health.
In terms of physical exertion, sex is considered a moderate form of exercise that requires about the same level of energy as climbing one or two flights of stairs. This level of physical activity is usually attainable for individuals with a stabilized cardiovascular condition. However, the following are some of the most important steps a person with heart disease can take to have safe, enjoyable sex once their condition has stabilized:
- Talk to your doctor about resuming sexual activity before doing so. Even though sex might not be recommended right after surgery or a cardiac event, kissing or cuddling a partner should be okay.
- Follow your cardiac rehabilitation plan as outlined by your health care providers. This may include supervised physical activity, counseling, and/or education about heart disease.
- Make sure to take your heart medication as directed by your health care provider.
- Once you are cleared for physical activity, regular exercise can help reduce your risk of any sex-related cardiac issues.
- Be aware of the signs of a cardiac event including shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and numbness in your limbs.
- Certain medications that you are on for your heart disease may interact with other medications used for sexual function (e.g., erectile dysfunction medications, vaginal estrogen, etc.) or birth control pills. Consult your doctor before taking any of these medications.
Regardless of whether you decide to resume sexual activity after your condition has stabilized, it is always okay to bring up sexual health concerns with your health care provider. Sexual health is an important part of a person’s overall health, so these questions and concerns are completely valid. For additional support with adjusting to the life changes that may come with heart disease, consider speaking with a therapist, counselor, or other mental health professional.
American Heart Association. (2015, July 31). Sex and Heart Disease. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/sex-and-heart-disease
Manhattan Cardiology. (2022, May 9). Is it Safe to Have Sex if You Have Heart Disease? https://manhattancardiology.com/is-it-safe-to-have-sex-if-you-have-heart-disease/
Mankad, R. (2022, August 3). Is it safe to have sex if I have heart failure? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/expert-answers/heart-failure-and-sex/faq-20433732