The scary life-changing effects of a heart attack are real. After suffering a heart attack, a patient might fear that resuming their sex life can possibly bring on another episode, so they refrain from engaging in any activity even if a medical doctor has cleared them.

Most people can and should eventually resume sexual activity after experiencing a heart attack, but as to when to begin is based on multiple factors. Heart attack patients who have no complications and who don’t experience chest pain or other symptoms when they walk briskly or engage in other moderate physical activity can typically engage in sexual activity after one week. Those who have had bypass surgery have to wait longer to engage in sex, more like 6 to 8 weeks. If a surgical procedure is more involved additional healing time will be needed.

A patient should wait to have sex; however, if they have advanced heart failure, severe valve disease, uncontrolled arrhythmia, unstable angina, unstable or severe heart disease. 

Keep in mind, each post-heart attack scenario is different, and a doctor will advise a patient on what is best and safest.

Here are a few tips on how to handle sex after suffering a heart attack:

  • Once a heart attack survivor has been given the green light to resume sexual activity, they should ease back into it slowly. Consider starting with activities such as hugging and kissing or sexual touching before engaging in intercourse. This may enable patients to build confidence and assess their tolerance for sexual activity.
  • Mutual masturbation can be a part of foreplay and could be a way to have sex sans the exertion of penetrative sex, which can be tiring after a heart-related episode. It is something that will give a patient and their partner all the pleasure they’re seeking from each other but are unable to achieve it due to certain limitations during intercourse.
  • Put the brakes on any activity that causes chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular palpitations, or dizziness. Wait a few minutes to see if the symptoms subside; if they do not, call a physician immediately.
  • Put receptive anal sex on pause as there is evidence that it puts pressure on the vagus nerve that runs between the brain and abdomen, and this can lead to chest pains (a doctor will advise when it is safe to get this act going again)
  • If meds are contributing to , speak to a doctor about tweaking them.
  • Having an affair, or having sex in an unfamiliar environment, may be a cause of stress for a patient. So, this is not the time to be having sex with a new partner or in a hotel room.
  • Enroll in a cardiac rehab program to maintain physical fitness; if a patient can work up a sweat at a gym, then it is probably safe to have sex, but a doctor will guide them.