Can men with heart-related health issues stay sexually active?
An active sex life for men offers many benefits for heart health. But after surviving a heart attack or heart procedure, there will be many questions men should discuss with their doctor. One question that should be asked and discussed is when can I resume sexual activity after a heart attack?
Having and surviving a heart attack or heart procedure such as angioplasty will be a life-changing event. However, fear, worry, and anxiety-driven thoughts and feelings can consume the person who had the heart attack and their partner. The answer most cardiologists will tell a man is they can resume their sex life after a heart attack unless any conditions might increase their risk.
The good news is most men do not have to give up their sex life due to heart health issues.
Depending on what kind of issues affecting a man’s heart has had will depend on how it may affect his sexual activity. There must be appropriate precautions on sexual activity after a heart attack to avoid the unlikelihood but potential of any heart-related event during sex. It is important to remember that each heart attack survivor has unique special considerations regarding when it is ok to return to having sex.
Here’s a look at basic guidelines men can review with their doctor before getting the go-ahead for intimacy:
- Men who’ve had heart attacks
Generally, most doctors advise avoiding sexual intercourse for at least two weeks after a heart attack if there are no serious complications. A damaged heart muscle needs time to heal. During this time is when most heart attack survivors will be participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program. This is to help the heart and cardiovascular system to return to tolerating physical exertion in everyday life, including sex.
Every man is different and unique, depending on the severity of their heart attack. Still, a basic guideline is when a man can do mild-to-moderate physical activity without issues, such as 10 to 20 minutes of brisk walking or climbing one or two flights of stairs, they should be able to resume sexual activity. Likewise, any man, who has been engaging in light exercise with no issues and has no major cardiovascular problems such as valve disease, heart failure, or an uncontrolled, abnormal heart rhythm, should be safe to resume their sex life.
Another factor determining when sex can start up again may depend on the medications a man is using. Beta-blockers which help lower blood pressure and improve blood remodeling, can lower sex drive and increase fatigue. Certain medications should not be taken at the same time. For example, nitrate medications, which help relax arteries and increase blood flow, are contraindicative if a man is already using erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, or Stendra. Doing so could result in a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
- Men who’ve had heart procedures
Heart procedures such as an angioplasty or stent, or open coronary artery bypass surgery, should delay sex until they have clearance from the doctor. Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. A coronary stent is a small, metal mesh tube that expands inside a coronary artery and is often placed during or immediately after angioplasty. Men should refrain from sex until their catheter insertion site has healed after these procedures. Also, if the procedure is done through the groin, men will have a longer recovery and need to consult their doctor about when sex can resume.
Men who’ve had open coronary artery bypass surgery need to delay sex until the breastbone has healed, which usually takes about six to eight weeks. In addition, men will need to avoid positions that put stress on their chest.
After a heart attack or heart surgery, men should participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program to improve fitness and endurance. Programs like this help the heart and cardiovascular system to return to tolerating physical exertion in everyday life, including sex.
- Men who have other risk factors associated with the heart
Men who’ve not had a heart attack or any surgical procedure for a heart condition may still need to be careful about sexual activity. High blood pressure, undiagnosed chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, or carry excess weight should have these conditions checked out by their physician, getting them under control before continuing regular intercourse.
Men do not need to feel embarrassed about discussing with their doctor about the sexual side of life and what is considered safe. This is essential for resuming normalcy to their lives and to share intimacy with their partner. However, not doing so may result in unnecessary worry or strain in their relationship which can easily be avoided once they know the recommended advice from their doctor.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.