Sex and heart conditions

Couple in bedYou can continue to enjoy a happy and healthy sex life even if you have a heart condition. However, it is normal to feel anxious about starting your sex life again if you have a heart condition.

When can I start having sex again?

Whether you have angina or are recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery you can usually resume sexual activity as soon as you are feeling well enough. After a heart attack or surgery, this is normally within 4 – 6 weeks. If you have had heart surgery, think about activities that avoid putting too much pressure on your chest wound in the first few weeks.

There are lots of things that you can do to reduce your anxiety about sex, such as:

  • choosing a relaxing atmosphere
  • caressing and touching may be a helpful start to increase your confidence
  • keeping the room and bed at a comfortable temperature.

When you are ready to start having sex again, think about the following:

  • avoid having sex after a heavy meal
  • avoid too much alcohol before sex
  • find a comfortable position
  • ask your partner to take a more active role
  • if you have a GTN spray or tablets, keep them where you can reach them just in case you need them.

Why am I experiencing a loss of sex drive?

Don’t worry about a loss of sex drive, or impotence. It is a common problem and usually temporary. The emotional stress of your condition or the medicines you have been prescribed could be the cause of your problems. Having diabetes can also affect your sex drive.

You should not feel embarrassed to talk to your GP, practice nurse or cardiac rehab nurse who will be understanding and can offer you advice and support. For more information on impotence you can download our erectile dysfunction information sheet.

More information

You can get more help and support by ordering:

  • Our Angina booklet
  • Affairs of the heart - a guide for Asian communities - translated into four South Asian languages: Urdu/Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Bengali. Also available in English

Our other DVDs on sex and heart disease are no longer available because they are out of date, but over the next year we will be developing a new booklet for patients and their partners offering further information and support.

Our Heart Helpline cardiac nurses and heart health advisors are here to provide you with information and support on anything heart related.