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COPD Health Center

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COPD and Sex

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

5. Take Your Medication Before Sex

The short-acting bronchodilators that many people with COPD use before exercise also help prevent coughing and breathlessness during sexual activity. Doctors recommend taking an anticipatory dose about 15 minutes before sex.

“For most people, two puffs or so is enough,” says Goodell. “It’s really a matter of patients testing the waters and knowing what their responses are.”

To get rid of the unpleasant aftertaste that might distract you or offend your partner, rinse out your mouth with an alcohol-containing mouthwash after using the inhaler.

6. Consider Using Supplemental Oxygen

If you or your partner finds supplemental oxygen helpful at other times, ask the doctor about using it during sexual activity.

“If you need to wear oxygen while walking, you’ll probably need to use it during sex,” says Sandhaus. The doctor might suggest increasing the flow of oxygen during sexual activity -- to accommodate the body’s increased need for oxygen during exertion.

If the partner with COPD doesn’t use supplemental oxygen but wonders if it would help during sex, you can find out with the help of an oximeter, a simple electronic device that the partner with COPD wears on his/her fingertip. If the readout indicates that the oxygen saturation falls below 88%, using supplemental oxygen during sex could prove helpful.

Ask your doctor. He or she might be able to loan you an oximeter. If not, you can buy one for under $50.

7. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

Try different sexual positions to find which ones work best for you and your partner. In general, positions that put pressure on the chest of the partner with COPD are more troublesome than side-by-side (face-to-face and front-to-back) or seated positions.

“For a man with COPD, the missionary position is probably worst,” says Sandhaus. Maybe it would help to use pillows to prop yourself up, or prop up your partner. Maybe it would be better to forgo the bed and have sex in a chair.

Also, try different sexual techniques and aids. “It’s important for people to try things, even if they were reluctant to try them before,” says Goodell. “It can be really beneficial to think of different ways of expressing sexuality that they have done or haven’t done in many years.”

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