Is There Sex After Heart Disease?
Doctors have good news for heart patients hoping to resume sexual activity.
Depression and Psychological Issues
Men and women may suffer from depression after a heart attack, which can
cause a lack of interest in sex, Jiang says. But some antidepressants may also
affect sexual desire and function.
"We are truly in a dilemma," Jiang says. And not surprisingly, men
with erectile dysfunction typically feel depressed, which decreases the desire
to have sex after heart disease.
Therapy to deal with psychological issues can also help with sexual
Lifestyle Changes Can Help
Men who take steps to live healthier can help their hearts and their sex
lives. Sex also gives heart disease patients a good incentive to change their
Exercise increases blood flow everywhere, including to the penis, Fisch
says. He recommends walking 10,000 steps a day, or 30 minutes of moderate
exercise every day.
Losing weight helps patients lower their blood pressure and their
cholesterol levels. Smoking constricts and damages the arteries, including
those going into the penis. Heavy drinking can lower libido and lead to
The bottom line on sex and heart disease? Patients need to talk to their
doctors about their individual cases because someone who has bypass surgery is
different from someone who has a mild heart attack. "They should have very
open and honest conversations with their physicians," Czajkowski says.
Ideally, she says, bring in a significant other.
Patients with any fear of having sex after heart disease might want to
remember that intercourse is psychologically -- and apparently physically --
healthy and can have a "protective effect" on men's health.