If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may be wondering how your condition will affect your sex life. Is it possible to have sex? Will it still be safe and satisfying?
The wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath that accompanies COPD can change the way you express your sexuality. But you and your partner can still have an active and fulfilling sex life. Here are some sex and intimacy tips for people with COPD.
Get in shape
Exercise can help you combat COPD symptoms. You don’t have to put in long hours at the gym. Walking for as little as 30 minutes per day can have significant health benefits. You can also ask your local hospital about pulmonary rehabilitation programs. Rehab programs can help you gently build your fitness level in a safe environment.
Create a COPD-friendly household
Dust, smoke, pet dander, and fragrances can aggravate COPD symptoms. It’s important to dust, vacuum, and wash your sheets on a regular basis. You can also use HEPA filters to remove irritating particles from the air. Always choose gentle home cleaning products. Strong chemicals like bleach and ammonia can trigger COPD symptoms.
Take your medication before sex
Short-acting bronchodilators can help prevent wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath during sex. Try taking one dose approximately 15 minutes before engaging in sexual activity. If you experience an unpleasant aftertaste, you can rinse with mouthwash before sex.
Use supplemental oxygen
If you use supplemental oxygen, you can try using it during sex. Ask your doctor about adjusting the flow for sexual activity. When you exert yourself, your body needs more oxygen. If you’re not sure if you’d benefit from supplemental oxygen, you can figure it out with a device called an oximeter. If your oxygen saturation falls below 88 percent during sex, you may want to talk to your doctor.
Try different sexual positions
Don’t be afraid to explore new sexual positions with your partner. In general, you may want to avoid positions that put pressure on your chest. You can prop yourself up with pillows until you find a comfortable position. Some people with COPD also like having sex in chairs. It can be fun to think of different ways to express your sexuality.
Take frequent breaks
If you experience shortness of breath during sex, it’s important to slow down or take a break. You can continue sensually caressing your partner to keep the mood going. There’s no reason to be overly concerned about feeling breathless during sexual activity. It’s no more dangerous than the shortness of breath you may experience while doing everyday activities.
Remember the goal
Great sex isn’t just about orgasms. It’s also about sharing intimate moments with your partner. Sometimes you won’t feel up to having intercourse. In those cases, you can simply hug and caress your partner. Many different activities can be intimate acts. It’s important to communicate with your partner about your sex life. Together you can overcome any sexual problems that arise.