• Reviewed on 7/13
    By Ann Mullen, RN

COPD: Emotional Management

Exercise and Sexual Activity

Exercise can also improve your mental alertness, self-esteem and your sex life. Most people have an increase in breathing and heart rate during exercise. This is normal and also occurs during sex. The amount of energy required for sexual intercourse is similar to climbing stairs or taking a fast walk.


Reduce Shortness of Breath During Sexual Activity

You may have learned ways to help relieve your shortness of breath during daily activity. There are also ways to help your shortness of breath during sexual activity. As you would during any type of exercise, pace yourself. Increase your activity slowly and relax. Make pleasure for you and your partner your goal.

  • Plan sexual activity when you feel good. Often people feel fresh and rested in the late morning or early afternoon.
  • As you would during any type of exercise, pace yourself. Increase your activity slowly and remember to relax.
  • If you use an inhaled medicine before exercise, ask your doctor about also using the inhaled medicine before sexual activity. Have your short-acting medicine available, if needed, during sexual activity.
  • If you increase your oxygen flow during exercise, ask your doctor about also increasing your oxygen flow during sexual activity. If you use a nasal canula try placing the oxygen tubing and canula around your head and tightening it at the back for greater comfort. Be creative in taping the tubing in place. Use tubing extensions to increase your mobility during sexual activity.
  • Wait two to three hours after a large meal. A large meal may increase your shortness of breath and make sexual activity difficult.
  • Keep the room cool, yet comfortable.
  • Remove heavy blankets from the bed.
  • Rest and use your breathing exercises if you become short of breath or feel you are suffocating. Try not to hold your breath. You may also want to try a less strenuous position.
  • Use a fan nearby for better airflow across your face.
  • If you have a problem with cough and phlegm, plan sexual activity when your lungs are clear.


NEXT: Less Strenuous Positions for Sexual Intercourse

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This program offers comprehensive, individualized care for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

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