How to Improve Your Sex Life with COPD

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If you or a loved one has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you know that shortness of breath and lack of energy can impact your everyday activities. That includes those in the bedroom. It's normal for COPD to affect sexual relations. But having the condition doesn't mean that intimacy is a thing of the past. In fact, it's very possible for people with COPD to have an active sexual life. These tips can help you maintain an intimate relationship with your partner.

1. Talk First

It isn't always easy to talk with your partner about sex. But it's so important. That's because at some point most people with COPD will experience breathlessness or fatigue during sexual relations. But anxiety or fears about these symptoms cause some sufferers to avoid intercourse altogether. Don't lose the opportunity to connect physically and emotionally with your loved one. Share your intimacy concerns with your partner. Talking about it can reduce your anxiety and allow you to work together to overcome challenges and achieve greater intimacy.

2. Get Moving

Starting an exercise program is one of the best things you can do to improve your sex life. Exercise helps build stamina for lovemaking. It can also reduce shortness of breath. Talk with your doctor about how you can get started. Try taking a daily walk or joining a pulmonary rehabilitation program. Start slowly and set reasonable goals. It's estimated that the physical effort needed for sexual intercourse is similar to that required to climb one flight of stairs at a normal pace.

3. Time It Right

Engaging in lovemaking at the right time can make a big difference in your physical ability. It can also affect your emotional well-being and confidence. Try to make love at a time of day when you are well-rested. And avoid lovemaking after eating a large meal or drinking alcohol—both can deplete your energy.  

4. Try Your Meds

Thankfully, COPD medications don't interfere with sexual drive or ability. In fact, they can even help. Talk with your doctor about using medication to improve sexual relations. If you use a bronchodilator, your doctor may suggest taking a dose just before sex. It reduces breathlessness for some people. And if you use supplemental oxygen during physical activity, plan to use the same amount of oxygen during lovemaking.

5. Get in Position

Whenever possible, have your partner take a more active role in lovemaking. And choose sexual positions that require less energy and avoid putting pressure on the chest. For example, a side-to-side position may be more comfortable than a bottom-top position. Take your time and experiment to see what feels best to both of you.

6. Talk With Your Doctor

Although COPD may change your stamina for strenuous activity, it does not change your sexual ability. If you have ongoing concerns, talk with your doctor. Sexual problems can stem from other health conditions or medications. Discussing them with your doctor may lead to effective treatment options.

Key Takeaways

  • Talk with your sexual partner about your COPD. Together, you can overcome challenges and achieve greater intimacy.

  • Exercising can build up your stamina for lovemaking.

  • Other health conditions or medications can affect your sex life. Talk with your doctor about treatment options. 

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 May 14
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.