Sex and heart conditions

Couple laid in bed at home

You 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 four to six 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.

Or you could call our Heart Helpline to speak to one of our cardiac nurses, who can provide you with more information and support. Call on 0300 330 3311 (similar cost to 01 and 02 numbers).

Related content:


Want to know more?

Order or download our publications:

Booklet for people with angina.



The front cover of the British Heart Foundation

Heart attack