Does a Broken Heart Mean the End of Sex?

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When will we be able to have sex again?

That’s the question you might be asking after you or your partner experiences a heart event. It’s also one you might be hesitant to ask. Hema Pendrangi, MD, Miami Valley Cardiologists noticed that many of her patients wonder when they can resume sexual activity after a heart event. “This is a common concern for many patients. Most of the time, they are not comfortable asking questions, so I typically initiate the conversation,” she said.

What’s the timeline for you and your partner to get back to life as normal? While it does depend on the type of heart event you have, the overall answer is a positive one: much sooner than you might think.

Sex After a Heart Attack

For a heart attack that was relatively straightforward (as in, a single blockage), as long as heart function is back to normal — and the treatment site in the groin or wrist is healed — Dr. Pendrangi has seen patients cleared for sexual activity in as early as a week.Does a Broken Heart Mean the End of Sex - In Content  

What if the heart attack was a bit less straightforward? If you have a heart attack that affected multiple blood vessels, you might have to get started on medication to stabilize your heart rate and blood pressure first. Your doctor might ask about your current physical condition. She asks this because, technically speaking, sexual activity is just that — a physical activity. So, if you can do moderate exercise, such as walking briskly up a few flights of stairs, or walking at the pace of two miles per hour for 20 minutes straight on level ground without any major changes in heart rate or blood pressure, then your heart may be ready for other equivalent activities, if you know what we mean.

Sex After Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery may be required to repair a heart valve. It could also be done to correct an underlying heart condition, or it may be used for bypass surgery.

If the surgeon cut through the sternum (breast bone) to reach the heart, it’s imperative that the sternum heals completely before resuming sexual activity. Typically, that takes six to eight weeks, which is the same amount of time that most doctors give your sternum to heal before you drive or sit in the front seat of the car. Give it time to heal fully.

“This is a common concern for many patients."

Open heart surgery can be minimally invasive, meaning that the surgeon reached the heart without cutting through bones. In this case, the surgical incision site needs to heal before you can resume sexual activity, which might take one or two weeks.

Be Honest With Your Doctor

Keep in mind, your doctor can only give you good advice if you are honest with him. If you’re convinced that changes in your sex drive or function is related to your heart medications, don’t stop taking them. Your heart health should come first. Don’t put yourself at risk. Instead, talk with your doctor to clear up any confusion about what’s safe and what isn’t. And your doctor will work with you to find the best solution to any problems related to your medication.

Our number one tip for a healthy return to sexual activity? Continue to take your prescribed medication unless directed to stop by a doctor.

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