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“The Impact of Heart Surgery on Sex”

Sex is so much more than just physical intercourse. Sex is about intimacy, touching and experiencing something unique with another person. During these sexual moments, from the very beginning long before physical intercourse begins, your body goes through several physiological changes.

When you become aroused, your breathing rate slowly starts to increase. Your skin becomes flushed. Your blood pressure and heart rate also begin to rise. The more excited you become, the more the tension builds, the higher your blood pressure and heart rate get.

During orgasm you release all of that built up tension. The heart rate increases to about 95-140 beats per minute depending on the individual, and blood pressure rises from 30-50 millimeters of mercury. This intensity passes and after orgasm, your blood pressure and heart rate return to lower levels, making you tired and ready for rest.

What effect does sex, the entire process beyond just physical intercourse, have on patients recovering from heart surgery? Should people who have had heart surgery be concerned about the impact sex could have on their health?

Sex Is Healthy

Sex is a very healthy activity. It can be a form of exercise. Putting your body into motion and increasing your blood pressure and your heart rate is just a part of a normal, healthy, everyday life. Sex can continue to be enjoyed by those who are recovering from heart surgery. To believe otherwise would be depriving you and your partner of something wonderful and beneficial.

For the most part, unless told otherwise, a heart surgery patient can resume sexual activity as soon as he or she feels ready. Some do make it a point to ask their doctor just to be on the safe side. That is not to say that everyone will immediately desire sex upon recovery. Sexual desire will be determined by a person’s age, the length of the relationship, new medications and the sexual drive of an individual—which might or might not be slightly different than before the surgery. For most people, sex resumes a few weeks after the surgery. Heart attack patients can sometimes take longer to recover.

Some patients, while physically healthy, suffer from anxiety, depression or just a waning sexual desire due to the recent trauma. Usually such feelings of anxiety last about 3 months. Therefore, if negative feelings are still arising after that time period it may be a good idea to seek some form of counseling (whether medical help, relationship and marriage counseling or sexual therapy or surrogacy) which can help a person to resume sexual activity and restore their confidence. Sexual problems will only get worse the more time passes, so it’s important to seek solutions as soon as is necessary.

Important Reminders For Recovering Lovers

Okay, so now it’s time for sex! What are some important notes and reminders? First, you may start to become more aware of your heartbeat, your breathing and some muscle tension. This activity is normal; in fact much of what you notice will be normal reactions, not any cause for alarm. If you or your partner are nervous about resuming physical intercourse so soon, then consider increasing the foreplay. You can hold and caress each other without an orgasm. You can feel loved without any demands to perform or any great strain if you feel you’re not ready yet. As you become more confident and comfortable, you can increase the level of sexual activity until you are back to the same routines.

Have a good routine of exercise, nutritious diet and regular prescribed medication, along with doctor check ups. The healthier your life style, the more you’re used to a rapid heart rate and rising blood pressure, the less chance that you will experience any problems during sex.

Don’t Stress The Little Things

Be patient with yourselves. Don’t stress over whether things are back to normal, or expect that the first few times will be perfect. Keep a good sense of humor and be patient with any mood swings that may arise within you or your partner. After a heart episode, there will be a time of adjustment in all areas of life. There also may be times when you do experience physical complications during sex, whether a shortness of breath, chest pains or other symptoms. If this happens, don’t panic. Tell your mate what’s happening, reduce the activity and take needed medication. Just like physical exercise, sex can be stopped and then resumed when you’re feeling better.

Resuming sex with your partner is a delightful activity and can improve your self-esteem, your positive feelings, and thus your health. It is important to talk about problems as well as your needs and wants. Good communication helps and sometimes sexual counseling can help, if there are larger issues to deal with. Some people prefer to visit a doctor, counselor, or surrogate. Sexual counseling can help you resume normal sexual activity, have a happier marriage, and live a healthier lifestyle.


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