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If you have heart disease, you may feel some trepidation about whether your cardiovascular system can handle sustained exertion. Maybe your doctor has warned you to avoid strenuous physical activity to reduce your risk of heart attack or other cardiac complications. A common question that comes up in this situation is: what about sex? Having enjoyable sexual intercourse is such an important part of many intimate relationships and can also greatly impact your level of overall happiness, but if you’ve been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, you may be wondering how to tell whether sex is safe for your level of heart health and physical fitness.

Should I exercise if I have heart disease?

When you get diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, it becomes all the more important that you are getting regular exercise when you are able to. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to the heart and cardiovascular system continuing to grow weaker and struggle more to pump enough blood throughout the body. Getting regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, swimming, or cycling are great for keeping your heart strong and healthy.

However, over-exertion can also strain your heart and increase the risk of potentially dangerous cardiovascular complications. Make sure to pace yourself, avoid exercising too hard in very hot or very cold weather, and follow any recommendations from your doctor.

Can sex be dangerous for people with heart disease?

The good news is that in most cases, sexual intercourse should be okay even if you have heart disease, so long as your condition is stable and you are following any advice from your cardiologist. Exertion-wise, sexual activity is generally considered to be about on par with climbing a few flights of stairs, and the strain placed on your heart should be manageable in most cases.

The important things to remember are to continue getting regular exercise and taking any heart medication prescribed by your doctor. Also be aware of any symptoms that may indicate a cardiac event, such as chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Talk to your cardiologist about heart disease and sexual activity

We understand that issues surrounding sexual activity can be sensitive or embarrassing for many people to talk about, but open discussion of any concerns you may have are so important to helping you maintain peace of mind and get the medical care that you need. You should inform your doctor if you are going to be sexually active again after receiving a heart disease diagnosis.

If you are taking erectile dysfunction aids such as Viagra, you should make sure that these do not have negative effects when combined with any heart disease medication which you are currently taking. Women with heart disease who are planning on using birth control or becoming pregnant should also talk to their doctor and make sure that these do not pose any potential health risks.

A healthy sex life is a natural and important part of your quality of life, and everyone deserves to be able to enjoy sexual activity without worrying about a potential risk to their health. If you need help with treating or preventing heart disease, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist.