“Ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex.”
You likely heard this line as a medical disclaimer on television or as a prankster. But there is really a strong link between heart health and sex.
Recent research shows that the question is not just whether your heart is strong enough for sex. On the contrary, new evidence suggests that even after a heart attack, sexual activity improves your chances of survival for years to come.
The relationship between sex and health
Getting Hot and Heavy is a light to moderate form of exercise with all of the immune and metabolic benefits associated with it, but it’s a unique one with benefits of its own. Frequent sexual activity, especially in a relationship with a steady partner, has been linked to lower stress, lower blood pressure, pain relief, and much more.
More frequent sex is also linked to a decrease in cardiovascular disease. This suggests that sexual activity may primarily help prevent heart attacks.
When asked about the cardiovascular benefits of sex, Dr. Kristin Mark, director of the University of Kentucky’s Sexual Health Promotion Laboratory, told TIME magazine: “People with healthy sex lives are likely to have an overall healthy lifestyle. Sex helps regulate hormones like estrogen and testosterone, which affect all types of systems in the body, including the heart. “
The case for sex after a heart attack
How to deal with sex in the face of heart disease is a common question. The consensus seems to be that the risks are minimal and the benefits can be substantial, as long as your heart is not unusually weak and you have completed the required rehab.
Michael Blaha, MD, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for Heart Disease Prevention, told Hopkins Medicine, “As long as your doctor has given you permission and you have no symptoms, this is OK to, too Return to normal activities. … [F]For people with stable hearts, the long-term benefits of regular physical activity – including sex – far outweigh the risks. “
The data support this advice. According to a new study by the European Society of Cardiology, which covered over 65 patients in eight Israeli medical centers, frequent sexual activity within the first few months after a heart attack was linked to longer life expectancy. The improvement was regardless of the number of times people had sex before their heart attack.
The take away
An ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure. So, be careful if you want to have sex after a heart attack. Every person is different. The best course of action is to ask your doctor for advice that is tailored to you. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask. There is ample evidence to suggest that sex can help improve your health and life span. If it turns out that you are not healthy enough to have sex, then you should know so too.
Sean Marsala is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based health journalist. He loves technology, usually reads, surfs the internet, and explores virtual worlds.