Patients ask their doctors many questions. However, most patients are quite shy when it comes to asking their lung doctor about sex. This does not mean that patients are not interested in learning more about sex and their lung disease. Unfortunately, Playboy has yet to publish on this topic.
Chronic lung disease requires patients to make many compromises. They have to walk more slowly. They may not be able to walk up a hill or a flight of stairs. Many patients will require supplemental oxygen. Sex and intimacy may require some compromises but don’t give up on your sex life. A healthy sex life is an important part of a full and satisfying life. It is also important in reaffirming the intimate feelings that you have for your partner.
Am I Too Sick for Sex?
Early in the course of your lung disease, sex should not result in undue symptoms or require much accommodation. However, as IPF gets worse, patients need to make a few adjustments.
First, if you use oxygen, keep it on during sexual activity. Even if you feel a bit funny at first using oxygen while being intimate, your partner finds you sexier when you are well oxygenated than when you are very short of breath and have low oxygen levels! If you use oxygen, an easy adjustment is to increase your oxygen flow rate by at least one liter per minute. This is easy to do and you don’t need a doctor’s prescription. Just turn the dial on your concentrator. If you feel better turning it up by two liters per minute, no problem.
Second, be mindful of how active you are during sex. Pace yourself. Certain positions require you to spend more energy and others less so. As your lung disease progresses, have your partner do more of the work.
Listen to your body. If you feel lightheaded or develop chest pain or pressure during sex, take a break. Turn your oxygen up. When you feel better, perhaps try something a bit less athletically demanding.
Talk to your partner about your feelings. Often this is a difficult topic for patients. I assure you that both you and your partner are interested in this topic. Keep in mind that libido may decrease as your lung disease progresses. Open communication is always the best strategy.
Taking Viagra with Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Good question. No problem using Viagra or Cialis in IPF. In fact, Viagra was studied as a treatment for Pulmonary Fibrosis. The results were mixed but by and large, patients felt better. As long as you are not taking nitrates (such as nitroglycerin or long acting nitrate preparations such as Isosorbide) most patients can take erectile dysfunction drugs. Always check with your doctor to make sure there are no drug interactions.