Categorized | Health

Sex After a Heart Attack: What Women Want to Know, and What Women Want Their Doctors to Know

Our inability to talk about sex stymies us at every turn. Take heart attacks. Having an enjoyable sex life reduces ones risk of a heart attack. Once you’ve had a heart attack you’re more likely to have another. And the lack of opportunity to get information about the safety of having sex after a heart attack means more of us either don’t resume sex, or when we do, we do so with increased fear and anxiety (not two of the great aphrodisiacs).

So you’d think that the thing to do, if you’re a doctor and you’re preparing to release someone from the hospital after they’ve had a heart attack would be to say a thing or two about sex.

Indeed, guidelines both in the U.S. and Europe recommend that physicians talk with people who have had a heart attack about sexual activity after recovery. Unfortunately research suggests that most doctors aren’t following the rules. When they do, they are much more likely to talk to men than women, making a recent report in the Journal of the American Heart Association all the more important to note.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers conducted 17 qualitative interviews with women, from 43 to 75 years of age, about their experience resuming sex post heart attack and conversations they had with doctors prior to resuming sexual activity.

The majority of women received no information about when it is safe to resume sexual activity. Those that did usually initiated the conversations with their doctors, and overall reported being dissatisfied with the answers they got.

Despite participants reports that they did have fears about the safety of resuming sex after a heart attack, most of the women started having sex within four weeks, and by six months all participants reported resuming sexual activity.

As the authors point out, there isn’t a lack of safety information regarding sex after heart attack, as multiple studies have shown that sexual activity after a heart attack is relatively safe. What is missing is communication, and what the women in this study identified was a need for information to be communicated prior to discharge from the hospital, that it be offered consistently throughout the recovery period, and that their sexuality be acknowledged as a part of who they are. A comment from one of the participants which was used in the title of the article sums it up nicely: “I’m not just a heart, I’m a whole person here.”

Read the Study: Journal of the American Heart Association: “I’m Not Just a Heart, I’m a Whole Person Here”: A Qualitative Study to Improve Sexual Outcomes in Women With Myocardial Infarction

Related: Sex After a Heart Attack ; Myths about Sex and Heart Disease ; Heart Attack During Sex ; Talking to Your Doctor About Sex and Heart Disease

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Source: About.com
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