Arrhythmias and Sexual Activity

Topic Overview

Is it safe for you to have sex?

If you have an arrhythmia and your doctor says that it's okay for you to do moderate activity, like brisk walking, then it's probably safe for you to have sex.

If you have any concerns, ask your doctor. Your doctor can check the health of your heart and help you know if it's safe to have sex.

Tell your doctor if you have symptoms, like palpitations, when you have sex or when you exercise.

Talk honestly with your partner about your concerns and feelings. You can also try professional counseling to help you to understand and deal with feelings of worry or fear.

What if you have a pacemaker?

Most people who have a pacemaker can have an active sex life. If your doctor says that you can exercise and be active, then it's probably safe for you to have sex.

After you get your pacemaker implanted, you'll let your chest heal for a short time before resuming sex.

What if you have an ICD?

Most people who have an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) can have an active sex life. If your doctor says that you can exercise and be active, then it's probably safe for you to have sex.

After you get your ICD implanted, you'll let your chest heal for a short time before resuming sex. If you or your partner are worried about resuming sex, talk with your doctor about your concerns. Your doctor or another health professional can give you support and advice.

What if you get shocked? Many people who have ICDs worry that the ICD might shock them during sex. The risk of getting a shock during sex seems to be the same as during any other similar level of exercise. If you get a shock during sex, you will follow your plan about when to call your doctor.

Will your partner get shocked? Some people worry that if they get shocked during sex, their partners might be hurt. But your partner will not be shocked or feel any pain if you get shocked.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Levine GN, et al. (2012). Sexual activity and cardiovascular disease: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 125(8): 1058–1072.
  • Steinke EE, et al. (2013). Sexual counseling for individuals with cardiovascular disease and their partners: A consensus document from the American Heart Association and the ESC Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professionals (CCNAP). Circulation. Published online July 29, 2013 (doi:10.1161/CIR.0b013e31829c2e53).
  • Vasquez LD, et al. (2010). Sexual health for patients with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. Circulation, 122(13): e465–e467.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Current as of March 12, 2014

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