Sexual Activity After a Heart Event or Procedure

The following are general guidelines for returning to sexual activity after a heart event or procedure. These guidelines are meant to inform you of typical recommendations, but it’s always best to ask your doctor when it’s okay to resume sexual activity.

After angioplasty and stenting without a heart attack

If you have angina (chest pain) with sexual activity before your angioplasty and stenting procedure, it's a good idea to talk with your heart doctor (cardiologist) about when it will be safe to resume sexual activity. If you didn’t have angina during sex before your procedure, then it’s usually recommended that you wait at least five days after the procedure before resuming sexual activity (or other strenuous activity). Your doctor may recommend you wait longer if you’re experiencing any discomfort in the groin area.

After a heart attack

Having sex within the first two weeks after a heart attack can lead to more heart problems. It’s important to check with your doctor about when you can resume sexual activity. Most people can have sex within three to six weeks after a heart attack, but how long you need to recover will depend on the size of your heart attack. If you had problems after your heart attack (such as recurrent chest pain, arrhythmias, or heart failure), and if you’re still having problems.

After a coronary bypass surgery

After heart surgery, such as a coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), it’s important to wait to resume physical activity (including sexual activity) until your sternum (breastbone) is completely healed. This usually takes six to eight weeks. Then, it's best to check with your doctor about when to resume sexual activity. Once you’re cleared to resume sex, consider sexual positions that don’t pressure the sternum.

With heart failure

If you have heart failure, fatigue (due to heart failure and usually the maximum doses of beta-blocker medications) may be the most limiting factor preventing sexual activity. Discuss your concerns and problems relating to sex with your doctor, who may be able to adjust your medication.

Ask your doctor

Every patient's situation is unique, and guidelines provide general recommendations for what’s suitable for some people. It’s always a good idea to speak openly with your healthcare providers about your condition and how it may affect resuming sexual activity, including any concerns or questions you or your partner may have.

The following questions can help you talk to your doctor about your sexual activity concerns. Print out or write down these questions and take them to your appointment. Taking notes can help you remember your physician’s response when you get home.

  1. When will I be able to resume sexual activity?
  2. If I had a heart attack, when would I be able to resume sexual activity?
  3. If I had an elective heart procedure, when would I be able to resume sexual activity?
  4. Is one type of sexual activity safer than another?
  5. Will having sex make me have a heart attack?
  6. What symptoms will I have if sexual activity puts too much strain on my heart?
  7. What should I do if I have chest pain during sex?
  8. Are any of my current medications affecting my sex life?
  9. Could erectile dysfunction medications help me? Are there any drug interactions with my current medications?
  10. Will my heart disease get in the way of a pregnancy?