The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Sex and COPD
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may be thinking about that special someone a little more often and your mind might be wandering to the subjects of sex, love and intimacy. Every relationship defines love a little differently. To one person, the act of showing meaningful affection might mean a night out on the town, and to another it might mean a quiet evening spent indoors and a playful wink from across the room. However you and your partner choose to show and feel love, embrace it.
Don’t Let Caregiving Get in the Way of Your Relationship
Often, the person who doesn’t have chronic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in a relationship acts as the caregiver. This can put tension on a relationship and might cause feelings of guilt in the person with COPD and feelings of resentment in the caregiver. These are common obstacles that need to be addressed through positive communication and a mutual understanding of the reality of the situation.
If you feel like your disease has put extra stress on your relationship, this might be a good time to sit down and calmly address your issues. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married 5 years or 50 years, addressing sensitive subjects never gets easier. Nevertheless in the end you will both feel better when you have open and honest communication. In every relationship, there are always compromises. Make it your goal to outline what you can do to help each other, how you can effectively communicate and how you both can live fulfilling lives that don’t revolve around COPD.
It’s OK to Talk About…. And Even Have Sex
Living with COPD can cause depression and have a negative impact on your sex drive. You might be worried that you’ll have difficulty breathing while having sex or that it will be disappointing to you or your partner. You can take control of these factors. If you’re really nervous about the act of having sex, talk to your PCP or pulmonologist—he or she has heard it before. Most likely, if you’re active enough to walk up stairs or the dog a hundred yards then you can have sex. Just remember to breathe and take it slow. Plus, isn’t sex supposed to leave you breathless?
Before you get to it, sit down and talk with your partner. Expressing your concerns about sex and COPD will open the door to mutual solutions. Be open and direct about how you feel and your partner will respect your feelings. If you’re not comfortable speaking in person, you can write your partner a letter or choose to go to mediated therapy. It doesn’t matter which communication method you choose, as long as you get the conversation going.
Say Thank You and I Love You
Take a step back and reflect on your relationship. Being diagnosed with COPD affects you physically and emotionally—don’t let it also put a road-block on your intimacy. Your partner watches you deal with COPD every day and stands by you while you fight this disease. Remember, the roller coaster of symptoms and emotions stemming from your COPD affects your partner too. Take a moment and write down every little thing you love about your partner. Let him or her know that you love them and that you’re thankful for everything they do for you. You may think that saying thank you each day is enough, but a written extension of your thanks goes a long way.
We hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with the person you love most!