In previous decades, if you heard someone had a heart attack, you might have assumed the worst. Heart attacks were synonymous with fatality. But, thanks to medical innovation and advancements, a heart attack doesn’t have to carry that weight anymore.
Harvard Medical School reports that more than 90 percent of people survive heart attacks today. There is life after a heart attack, and it can be a full one, rich with the activities that you love – including sex. That said, it’s only natural for heart attack survivors to worry about getting intimate again. –And rightfully so. It’s rumored that Kevin Samuels, the infamous dating and relationship consultant, died of a heart attack while possibly engaging in sex.
Sex, which makes our hearts race figuratively, makes it race literally, too. For people who’ve been through the trauma of a cardiac event, that can be scary. The good news is that, most people are perfectly safe to engage in sexual activity after having a heart attack. In fact, research from The American Journal of Medicine shows that heart attack survivors can increase their chances of long-term survival by having sex weekly. Here are some things to know about having sex after a heart attack.
Speak With Your Doctor About Your Case
While most heart attack survivors can and should resume sexual activity, it is important to speak with your doctor first about your condition. The general rule is to wait four to six weeks, but, some patients must wait longer than others, and take more precautions. There are several factors that impact when it is safe to resume sex, according to UTSouthwestern Medical Center. These include:
- The severity of the heart attack
- Damage to the heart
- The success of the recovery period
- Whether or not a stent was inserted
- Whether or not the patient is in heart failure
Speak to your doctor about the specifics of your cardiac event to determine when it is safe to resume having sex.
Communicate Openly With Your Partner
Following a heart attack, you might be hesitant to engage in sexual activity, for fear of a medical event. Likewise, your partner could be worried about initiating sex, for fear that they’ll hurt you. These concerns are normal. The important thing is to speak openly about them. If neither party is communicating these fears, than feelings of rejection can come up.
Having sex following a heart attack will involve communicating about sex, perhaps more than you did previously. But, for many, this can ultimately lead to a better sex life in which both parties get comfortable expressing their needs and wants, and exploring new ways to get in the mood and enjoy sex.
If you can cultivate open communication with your partner and get back to an active sex life, you can actually enjoy some benefits. In fact, one cardiologist told Everyday Health that sex can be one of the best activities for combatting depression following a heart attack.
Safety Tips For Sex After A Heart Attack
Most heart attack patients won’t need to do much out of the ordinary in order to keep up a healthy sex life. That being said, there are some common sense precautions to take:
- Don’t drink heavily prior to sex. Alcohol can cause fluctuations in your heart rhythm. Combined with those that occur during sex, heavy drinking + sexual activity can be a risky combination for heart attack survivors.
- Wait a while after eating (ideally, two hours). This is especially important after large meals. Digesting food takes a lot of energy out of you, leaving your body too depleted for sex right after a big meal.
- Let your partner do the work. If you are still nervous about getting your heart rate up during sex, you can ask your partner to take a more active role. For women, this can mean missionary style, spooning, doggy style and similar positions in which a male partner does most of the work. For men, it can mean woman-on-top, reverse cowgirl, sitting positions and similar positions where the woman does the work.
- Start slowly. Take your time to build intimacy through cuddling, kissing and other activities that help you and your partner connect. This gives you the chance to see how your heart is responding to arousal in a gentle and gradual manner.