Asthma is a long-standing inflammatory disease that affects your airways. It is a common condition and affects 8.5% of Canadians. Severe asthma is characterized by persistent asthma symptoms, requiring intensive treatment and a high dose of corticosteroids.

While there is a strong link between asthma and poor life quality, its effect on sexual health is not clearly understood.

In a recent survey by Asthma UK, about one-third of asthma patients responded that the condition affects their sex life. About 75% of the participants admitted being embarrassed using inhalers during intimacy. And almost 50% felt that they would feel more confident if they did not have asthma.

Some asthma patients also have reported being hospitalized as orgasm triggered an asthma attack. People with asthma may also find oral sex challenging. Fortunately, all these problems can be managed with the help of a physician or medical team.

Overview

Asthma narrows your airways, making it difficult for you to breathe. Increased physical activity and breathing during sex further constricts the inflamed airways and may even shut them down. Shortness of breath is the major contributor to discomfort during sex. In some cases, extreme emotions can also result in asthma. An asthma attack that occurs during sex is known as ‘sexercise-induced asthma.’

Besides, the room where lovemaking takes place may have asthma triggers, such as dust mites. Many females are also seen to have latex-induced asthma.

Impact on Men with Asthma

While asthma can affect both men and women, men are seen to have a more negative attitude towards medicine than women.  Not taking treatment regularly can increase asthma attacks and may increase the risk of sex-induced breathing difficulties. 

Impact on Female with Asthma

Women are more regular with their medicines but are more affected by emotions such as anxiety and stress. Besides, sex hormones may influence breathing. It is seen that low testosterone levels and high estrogen levels trigger airway inflammation.

So, women may be at a higher risk of sex-induced asthma.

Medication and Side Effects

Medicines used to manage asthma are not seen to affect your sexual activity. The most common side effect of taking an inhaler is oral thrush, which may prevent you from being intimate. To reduce the risk of oral thrush, gargle your mouth after taking inhaler.

Medication Helping Sexual Side Effects

As discussed before, sex involves vigorous activity similar to that walking fast. Such activity can trigger wheezing, shortness of breath, and tight chest, which are symptoms of asthma

If these indications are due to sexual activity, they are more likely to appear five to eight minutes after the intercourse. Besides, having asthma symptoms during or after sex means the condition is poorly controlled. It is best to talk to your doctor.

Based on your problem, your doctor can help with the following medicines:

  • Daily medicines: If your asthma problem needs more control than only during sex, your doctor may prescribe or alter your daily medication.
  • Inhaler: Taking short-acting bronchodilator 15-20 minutes before sexual activity may help prevent asthma attack during or after sex.

Moreover, if you have asthma attacks more during sexual activity and not during other time, it may be related to other factors, including:

  • Latex allergy: Modern condoms are made up of latex with fewer proteins that may trigger an allergy. However, some females develop an allergic reaction to it, including an asthma attack. Other symptoms include hives, drop in blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems. In such cases, switching to non-latex condoms can help. However, they might not provide the same amount of protection from sexually transmitted disease.
  • Heart problems: Early signs of heart problems may mimic asthma. It is best to consult your doctor and get screened for heart conditions. 
  • Anxiety or trauma: Stress is a well-known trigger for asthma attacks. There can be various reasons for having stress around sex. Some examples include overcoming trauma such as rape. In such cases, a therapist and your doctor can help you manage asthma due to anxiety or stress.

Living with Asthma and Best Sexual Practices

The good news is that you can lower the risk of an asthma attack during sex by getting regular check-ups and taking medicines as advised. An inhaler check and a written asthma action plan can also come in handy.

You can also consider the following:

  • Mindfulness: As discussed before, stress can be a triggering factor for asthma. Having an asthma attack during or after sex can become a vicious cycle. Having an attack during sex makes you anxious during intimacy, which further triggers asthma. It can also prevent pleasure during sex, making it less enjoyable. Mindfulness can prevent the continuation of the cycle.
  • Biofeedback: Various studies have shown the benefits of biofeedback training that focuses on breathing and heart rate for asthma symptoms. The best part is that it is not time-consuming, noninvasive, and does not involve the use of medicines. 
  • Adopt various lovemaking techniques: Try and avoid vigorous lovemaking techniques. It is best to try to involve in more gentle intimacy activities that are pleasurable for both.
  • Change positions: Avoid positions that put too much pressure on your chest. You can also change positions to avoid an asthma attack. Try and experiment to find a penetration position that does not trigger your symptoms.

You can also try the following tips to manage your problem:

  • Know your triggers: If you notice that certain factors trigger asthma, such as alcohol, strong smell, or latex, it is best to avoid them. You can also talk to your partner in advance so that they can take necessary precautions or adjustments.
  • Do not feel embarrassed: You need to remember that asthma is a common condition, and your partner might not mind you using an inhaler. It is possible that all this is in your head. In a relationship, communication with your partner can enhance your bond and help understand each other’s needs.
  • Lower your risk: The best way to prevent these attacks is to take medicines on time and go for a regular check-up.
  • Communicate: Do not hesitate to talk to your physician or nurse about how asthma is affecting your relationship or sex life.

Final Thoughts

Asthma is a common condition, and severe or uncontrolled asthma may affect your sex life. It may trigger your symptoms, making sex unenjoyable. You should know that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Talk to your partner and take precautions to prevent asthma attacks.

It is also best to consult your doctor and they will help you manage your condition better.

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