Sex after a heart attack? Experts weigh in.
If you’ve had a heart attack, rolling around in the proverbial hay might be one of the last things on your mind. In fact, you may be concerned that doing so could lead to further heart issues.
However, a recent study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests that resuming or engaging in a healthy sex life within just a few months after having a heart attack could actually decrease your risk of having another heart attack.
“This may sound surprising, but the reason is because sex is actually a form of physical exercise that gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing,” says Lauren Bushman, family medicine nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Center in Greenville, Wis. “The key here is that having sex regularly supplements an already-healthy lifestyle of working out regularly and eating a heart-healthy diet.”
Just how often should you be working out, and in conjunction, how much sex is a healthy amount?
“This obviously depends on your specific biological factors, including if you’re trying to lose weight, but generally speaking, it is advised that individuals get about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days per week, and about 25 minutes of higher-intensity physical activity three days per week,” Bushman says.
And while sex may not be a massive calorie burner — incinerating about 4 calories for each minute of activity — it still counts as exercise.
But there’s one catch.
“Most people aren’t having intercourse for 30 minutes at a time for several days per week,” Bushman explains, “So while having sex certainly raises your heart rate, don’t rely on it as your only source of exercise. How much sex you choose to have and what you consider a healthy amount is really up to you and your partner.”
If you’ve had a heart attack, it may be safe to engage in intimate relations after about 6 weeks after the event, but Bushman recommends first talking with your doctor before making any changes to your exercise routine – including when is safe to resume your sex life – or diet.
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About the Author
Brianna Wunsch, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator for Advocate Aurora Health with a BA in public affairs from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In her free time, Brianna enjoys living an active lifestyle through biking, hiking and working out at the gym, but even more than that, she especially loves spending quality time with her two cats (Arthur and Loki), son and husband.