Resuming Sexual Activity After a Heart Attack

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Resuming Sexual Activity After a Heart Attack

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You may be afraid to resume sexual activity after a heart attack. But it's not true that resuming sex after a heart attack can cause another heart attack, stroke, or sudden death. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns. But you can resume sexual activity as soon as you feel ready for it.

Several things may discourage you from resuming sexual activity with your partner after a heart attack.

  • You may have fears about your performance or about your ability to have sex without angina or other symptoms occurring.
  • You may be depressed after your heart attack. This depression is normal, and in the majority of cases it goes away within 3 months.

Professional counselling may help you to understand and deal with these feelings.

When you and your partner decide to start having sex again, it might be helpful to keep in mind the following:

  • Talk honestly to your partner about your concerns and feelings.
  • Choose a time when you are relaxed and comfortable in a place that will be free from interruptions.
  • Wait 1 to 3 hours after eating a full meal so that digestion can take place.
  • Be aware that anxiety on the part of either partner and the use of some medicines may interfere with sexual arousal and performance. Talk with your doctor about any concerns.

If you take nitroglycerin or other nitrates, either regularly or when needed for chest pain, do not use erection-enhancing medicines, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra). Taking these medicines together can cause a drop in blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting. But experts agree that for men with stable coronary disease who are not taking nitroglycerin, erection-enhancing medicines are safe.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology
Last Revised June 6, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.