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COPD and Sex

9 tips for better sex and intimacy when you have COPD.

2. Pick the Right Time

Good sex needn’t require expending lots of energy. “The energy requirements for sex aren’t that different from the energy requirements for doing other things,” says Barbara Rogers, president and CEO of the Emphysema/COPD Association in New York City.

“If you can walk up two flights of stairs or walk briskly, you can probably handle sex,” she says.

Still, people with COPD sometimes become fatigued during sex. To make sure you or your partner doesn’t poop out, schedule sexual encounters for a time of day when the partner with COPD feels most energetic.

True, scheduling sex means forgoing the spontaneity that often makes for good sex. But requesting sex in the form of a flirtatious note can add a dash of excitement. Or you and your partner might wink at one another (or come up with another sign) to indicate that you’d like to “turn in early.” Make scheduling sex an erotic game, not a chore.

3. Rid Your Bedroom of Irritants

COPD symptoms can be aggravated by dust, pet dander, smoke, fragrances, etc. Do all you can to rid the bedroom of these lung irritants.

Dust, vacuum, and wash the sheets regularly. Consider using a HEPA air filter. And watch out for smelly cleaning products -- especially chlorine bleach or ammonia -- as their odors can trigger symptoms.

If scented deodorant or shampoo poses a problem, consider switching to unscented varieties. If excessive mucus secretion causes trouble, keep a box of tissues at the bedside. Nasal irrigation before sex can help, as can using a mucus-loosening vibrating vest.

4. Get a Fan

Recent research has shown that a cool breeze on the face can help ease the distressing shortness of breath that people with COPD often experience during sex. The flow of air can come from an open window or a fan.

“A simple electric fan can really be helpful,” says Goodell. Similarly, keeping the bedroom cool helps keep a buildup of body heat from adding to breathlessness.

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