Bedroom play: Is your heart up to it?

Indulging in sexual activity is part and parcel of living a full and healthy life. However, heart patients usually wonder if sex will have an adverse effect on their health.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease patients can resume having sex once their condition has stabilised.

However, some may still have concerns about sex, while others may find it hard to enjoy or have sex at all.

Is sex exercise?

The answer is yes. When you have sex, it is akin to actually participating in mild to moderate exercise.

Therefore, if you are able to brisk walk, you can definitely enjoy a satisfying sex life. If you are able to climb two flights of stairs without experiencing chest pains, you can have sex normally.

Having sex for an average of five to 15 minutes is equal to walking for 20 minutes.

Is sex good for your heart?

Of course. A study has shown, for instance, that men who have sex only once or less a month are more likely to develop heart disease than men who participate in sexual activity two times a week (or more).

The study does not prove however, that sex can prevent cardiovascular disease although it indicates that sex does play an important role in observing a healthy lifestyle.

Sex and heart disease

Do keep the following in mind if you are diagnosed with heart disease:

• Ask for a full assessment from your doctor before you go back to having sex.

• If you have had heart failure or a heart attack, cardiac rehabilitation and frequent physical activity can decrease the risk of complications pertaining to sexual activity.

• If sexual dysfunction occurs, talk to your doctor to see whether it is the result of heart disease or other factors.

When is it safe to resume having sex?

If you have just suffered a heart attack, or undergone heart surgery, you should consult your doctor about when it would be appropriate to resume sexual activity.

In some cases, sex should be avoided for a time, especially if you suffer from heart problems and experience chest pain when participating in physical activity.

Abstain from sex until you treat the symptoms fully. In case you have just undergone heart surgery, wait for the wound to heal completely before you resume having sex.

Sexual problems

Heart problems can lead to physical changes that are likely to give rise to sexual problems. Some heart patients may experience less interest in sex than they used to, for example.

Men may suffer from erectile dysfunction while women may experience vaginal dryness. In either case, it is best to see your doctor first.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.