Heart Failure and Sexual Activity

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Heart Failure and Sexual Activity

Topic Overview

Most people with heart failure can still have an active sex life. But sexual problems are common. Your interest may drop, or you may have shortness of breath or other symptoms that limit your ability to have sex. Men may have erection problems.

To make sex easier on you and your heart:

  • Avoid sexual activity when:
    • It's very hot or humid outside.
    • You're under stress.
    • You've just had a meal.
  • Don't drink alcohol for at least 3 hours before sex.
  • Stop if you feel light-headed or have chest pain, palpitations, or a fast heartbeat.
  • Tell your doctor if you're having heart failure symptoms when you have sex.

If you take a nitrate medicine, do not take an erection-enhancing medicine such as sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), or tadalafil (Cialis). Combining these medicines can cause a life-threatening drop in blood pressure.

You can get help for erection problems or other sexual troubles. For more information, see the topics:

Related Information

Credits

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 Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last Revised October 14, 2010

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