If Salt & Pepa can encourage us to talk about sex, most certainly doctors can… at least they should. However despite women being the usual initiator of this conversation, “most women don’t have discussions with their doctors about resuming sex after a heart attack even though many experience fear or other sexual problems.” said Emily M. Abramsohn, MPH, lead author and researcher for the TRIUMPH (Translational Research Investigating Underlying Disparities in Acute Myocardial Infarction Patients’ Health Status) trial.
Fearful that resuming sexual activity may cause another heart attack women are looking to their doctors for guidance as to how soon they can get their groove back.
In a large multi-state qualitative study, women were followed for one year post heart attack. Women were contacted via phone periodically and asked a series of questions relating to their sexual life pre and post heart attack. It showed that women did not receive the information they needed about resuming sex after a heart attack. And for those women who did, they initiated the conversation. And of those conservations initiated by women, many were dissatisfied with the lack of information or perceived topic interest from their doctor. Is the wait 4 weeks? 6 weeks? 10 weeks? Does one have to wait til they can climb 2 flights of stairs? The truth is none of the above.
Studies show that the resumption of sex anytime post heart attack is generally safe and for women usually becomes more intimate with foreplay, kissing and caressing. The biggest fear women and their partners had was that of a subsequent heart attack related to the physical exertion and positions taken during sex. For all these reasons its important to discuss this with your health care provider but overall it is generally safe to resume sex anytime after a heart attack. Sex is a natural part of healthy life and other studies indicate that those more satisfied with their sexual life are less likely to have a heart attack. In this study, despite fears of another heart attack or dying, many started having sex within a month after their heart attack even without guiding information from their doctor.
Barriers to patient physician communication about sexual activity were suspected to be related to male physicians being uncomfortable with initiating this conversation with female patients, not recognizing it as an important topic for women and age discrepancies, as if older women aren’t sexually active.
If your doctor isn’t giving you information to help you feel more comfortable about it (sex), it’s important for you to ask them for it.”