‘Sorry Honey just had a heart bypass!’ One would imagine a standard refrain that one would use to avoid sex.
Not true! Fact is most people continue to have either similar or near enough similar/ somewhat improved sex life after heart operations.
Many factors play an important part in recovery process after surgery:
- Patients age- younger patients recover faster.
- Severity of illness- less severe the illness the faster the recovery (gall bladder vs. bypass).
- Duration of illness- Longer the duration of illness before surgery the longer it takes for recovery.
- Condition of the heart- a more damaged heart before op may be related to a longer recovery period.
- Complications after surgery- more the complications after surgery or longer the duration of stay in hospital, longer the recovery period.
- Patients attitude towards life- happier patients recover faster.
- Surgeons attitude towards recovery- surgeon can give confidence to the patients with his knowledge and attitude.
Within that holistic view of health, disease, operation and recovery; sex is yet another body function along with appetite, digestion, breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, mental functions, pain control and emotions. While most doctors suggest waiting about four weeks after the operation before having sex again, everyone will need to find his or her timing and a comfortable position. Every surgeon has patients who started almost on the day of discharge from hospital, in fact one of my patients brought along a little child during followup 10months after surgery!
Please appreciate that return to normality of all bodily functions is a must after any illness, injury or surgery; the following are essential for return of sexual activity:
- Recovery from pain,
- Recovery of heart and lung dynamics
Mood depends in large part on unassisted restart of daily activities and return of confidence. A healthy appetite and good quality tasty food helps.
Medications: Young patients who are taking cardiac or blood pressure medications called beta blockers- atenolol, metoprolol and bisoprolol sometimes suffer from erectile dysfunction. We suggest alternative drugs to patients who suffer side effects from one.
Remember – do not restrict your breathing nor put pressure on your fresh chest wound, be gentle and allow the partner to do more.