"Sex is the gateway to life." Frank Harris
Sex is an important part of healthy relationships and overall well being for many people, but what happens when sex gets in the way and makes your asthma symptoms worse? Your doctor probably asks you questions at every visit to assess the control of your asthma symptoms. However, doctors aren't always so good about asking patients if asthma symptoms are affecting their sex life.
Asthma and Sex Life
In the Reducing Emergency Asthma Care In Harlem Project, researchers examined the impact asthma has on sex life. Of 356 asthmatics who went to the ER for asthma care:
- 80% of asthmatics participated in sexual activity in the 2 weeks prior to their emergency room visit
- 60% reported some limitations in their sex life
- Sex was the 15th most common asthma limitation reported
- Sexual impairment was the 3rd most important limitation reported by the patients after ability to climb stairs and ability to do housework.
How Does Asthma Worsen My Sex Life?
Sexual activity can set off your asthma in several ways:
- "Sexercise Induced Asthma:" These are asthma episodes that cannot be attributed to any other activity other than sexual excitement. Many of these patients and their partners have significant anxiety and apprehension. Some asthmatics may experience symptoms at the beginning of intimate contact that prevents completion of sex, while others may experience asthma symptoms 4 to 6 hours after sex.
This is not considered a variant of exercise-induced asthma because drops in peak flows are not seen with exercise, but are seen with sexual activity. This form of asthma and sex can be treated by taking medications before sex, or may be a sign that your asthma is poorly controlled and you need more treatment.
- Human Seminal Plasma Allergy: Most commonly occurring in women, these asthmatics develop hypersensitivity reaction and the patients develop an allergy to their partners' semen.
- Condom Induced Asthma: In this condition, patients develop symptoms related to latex allergy from condom use.
- First Time Sex: Experiencing sex for the first time can possibly trigger asthma or exacerbate pre-existing asthma. Because sex can be an intense emotional experience, sex can lead to a significant production of stimuli that trigger an immune system response through production of mast cells and basophils.
What Do I Do If Asthma Is Ruining My Sex LifeTalk With Your Doctor: Talking with your doctor can be hard, but a little preparation can help you bring up this topic.
Treat Sex Like Any Other Trigger: Except for the part about avoiding triggers. But you can identify and treat asthma symptoms related to sex like another trigger.
Treatment: As with asthma in general, if your symptoms are poorly controlled you may need additional medication or take specific actions before sex to prevent symptoms.
Meyer I, Sternfels P, Fagan JK, Ford JG. Asthma-Related Limitations in Sexual Functioning: An Important but Neglected Area of Quality of Life. American Journal of Public Health. May 2002. Volume 92 pp770-772.
Lee-Wong L, Collins JS, Nozad C, Resnick DJ. Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity. Obstetrics and Gynecology. Volume 111(2, Part 2), February 2008, pp 538-539.
Ashok S. Asthma and Sex. The Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences. Volume 43. 2001. pp135-137