February is Heart Health Month AND the month “for lovers” — and it’s not a coincidence! If you and your partner are getting more cuddly this month, good news! — it’s good for your heart.
The Health Benefits of Sex
Sex can relieve pain, including headaches, help you sleep well, and improve emotional well being for both men and women. And, although you hear those stories of men having heart attacks in the middle of sex, that’s not common, and more likely due to stress. According to one study, men who have sex at least twice per week were less likely to develop heart disease compared to men who had sex once per month.
Regular sex also:
- Boosts the immune system
- Improves libido
- Can improve bladder control in women
- May make prostate cancer less likely
- Eases stress
- May lower blood pressure overall
- Improve intimacy with your partner
Are you Healthy Enough for Sex?
If you can walk up a flight of stairs briskly, your cardiac output is high enough for sex. Sex is considered mild to moderate physical activity; studies have shown our heart rates rarely get above 130 beats a minute, and blood pressure always stays under 170 during sex. Heart events rarely occur during sex, because of the short duration.
However, if you have had heart problems, heart surgery, or a heart attack, consult your doctor about your level of fitness and readiness for this and any other activity. Women thinking about starting birth control or getting pregnant should talk to a doctor first. Also, check with your doctor about any drugs you are taking; any form of nitrate cannot be mixed with drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). Post-menopausal women with cardiovascular disease are usually OK to use topical or vaginal estrogen during intercourse.
Some researchers say sex is a marker for your overall health; if you’re too out of shape to enjoy sex, it might be time to make some changes. In fact, for men, many of the causes of ED are related to poor health, such as extra weight, smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In women, especially, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression and other factors lead to sexual dysfunction. Why not set a goal in February for you and your partner to get a bit fitter so you can enjoy more of each other’s company in the bedroom?
If you have questions about your heart health and sex, please don’t be shy. Ask your GFP physician during your next visit or make an appointment today.