Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sex & Heart Attacks: Is there a risk?

Absolutely not! The notion that one’s sex life is over after a heart attack is a myth. Medical experts agree that there are no physiological reasons why the majority of heart-attack victims, male and female, cannot resume a satisfactory sexual relationship.

Unfortunately, many doctors still help perpetuate the myth by not counseling patients about the do’s and don’ts of sex following release from the hospital. (Viagra and other Erectile Dysfunction-ED- medications are definite don’ts) “Take it easy” is hardly the sort of comment that will make heart-attack victims, or their partners, confident about their sexual future. Studies have shown that most sexual problems experienced by heart-attack victims – and many have difficulties including lack of sexual response or impotence – are because of the lack of information and the fear of another heart attack, rather than any organic medical complication. Sexual intercourse is no more strenuous than ordinary household activities such as climbing a few flights of stairs.

But one warning: Don’t resume sex after a heart attack without consulting your cardiologist. What the doctor will recommend will vary with the severity of the heart attack. On request, most cardiologists will give sexual advice to both partners the day the patient leaves the hospital. It is important that both spouse and patient know it is not dangerous to resume sex.

Most cardiologists suggest starting slowly, by caressing. Within two or three months – and after a check-up, you can usually resume sexual relations.

Robin Westen is a free-lance writer. Over two hundred of her articles have appeared in numerous magazines including Psychology Today, American Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Self, among many others. She writes a weekly psychology quiz and a monthly sex advice column for national publications.

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