According to recent surveys, a fifth of heart patients report feeling nervous to have sex through fear of a heart attack, with others finding the actual act impossible. The researchers found that 1 million people have stopped having sex because of their heart condition. A leading Doctor explains that sex is a healthy and normal act that is rarely discussed due to the stigma attached, and very rarely discussed in the Doctors surgery.
Benefits of sex
No doubt people will have trouble listing a plethora of benefits associated with sex, the obvious ones need no highlighting, but there are some less obvious benefits too. Sex is thought to support brain function, a study conducted at Princeton University found that rats who performed in sexual activity demonstrated growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that forms and stores memories. Sex was also seen to overcome the damaging effects of cortisol, which consequently reduces stress. It is thought that the lower levels of cortisol contribute to the abovementioned brain cell growth. Sex can improve mood, the act of sexual activity can increase the release of the feel good hormones serotonin and oxytocin. Heart health…yes, heart health is thought to improve with sex, however this is in people who have a normal functioning heart already. Sexual arousal increases heart rate, and the act increases it further still, but like with any physical activity, the impact it has on the heart depends on how vigorously you do it! This said, the peak heart rate during sex is about the same as walking up a flight of stairs, or during light exercise, so sexual activity isn’t going to suffice on its own.
So should you be worried about your heart during sex?
Although excessive strenuous activity may not be advisable, many experts suggest that heart disease doesn’t have to hold you back. They suggest not exceeding the levels of exertion placed on your heart during every day activities such as walking up stairs etc. So long as you can work to this point without experiencing chest pain then all should be OK. Needless to say this isn’t guaranteed, but generally sexual activity can be a great way of improving quality of life with or without heart disease.
NHS Choices, (2014). Benefits of love and sex. Retrieved 16th July, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodsex/Pages/ValentinesDay.aspx
Mirror, (2014). A million people stop having sex because of their heart condition study finds. Retrieved 16th July, 2014, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/million-people-stop-having-sex-3752407