It is always important to know what is going on in the world of COPD/Asthma, hence a weekly (at the minimum) posting of ‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ – because those of us battling the issue should always be up to date on what is going on, and that includes both the positives and the negatives of the COPD/Asthma life.
Here we share part two of a two-part set, offering a discussion on the ‘Factors Associated with COPD Life Expectancy’.
Special Note – This writer is married and was diagnosed with late Stage 3 COPD three months after surviving a major heart attack. Those two medical incidents have made our marriage stronger in most all areas and more challenging in several others, with intimacy and sex being one of them. How we are doing is personal, but this write has some solid information for those who face the same challengers and fears.
So – here is the second of three-sets discussing ‘9 Points for Better Sex and Intimacy when you have COPD’.
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(This article was found within the expanded world of the internet and was written seven years past with a review by Brunilda Nazario, MD. – we repeated the opening comments before getting into tips three, four, five and six.)
‘9 Tips for Better Sex and Intimacy when You have COPD’
By Katherine Kam
If you or your partner are living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you may be wondering what effect COPD will have on your sexuality. Will sex be possible? Will it be safe? Satisfying?
COPD symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath will almost certainly change the way you and your partner express yourselves sexually. But that doesn’t mean you must bid adieu to sex or other forms of physical intimacy.
Of course, good sex isn’t automatic when COPD is in the picture. To get things right, it’s essential to talk about sex with your partner (or, if you’re single, with prospective partners).
“I tell my patients to approach the subject openly and directly,” says Robert A. (Sandy) Sandhaus, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health hospital in Denver and a member of the medical and scientific advisory board of the COPD Foundation. “Starting the conversation is often the most important step — and the biggest hump to get over.”
If you’re uncomfortable with a face-to-face talk, consider communicating with your partner or prospective partner via telephone or letter. Make it clear what you want and expect from sex, ask what your partner wants and expects, and do your best to agree upon the steps you’ll take together to overcome any sexual problems that arise.
Now for Tips 3, 4, 5 and 6 – –
- Rid Your Bedroom of Irritants
COPD symptoms can be aggravated by dust, pet dander, smoke, fragrances, etc. Do all you can to rid the bedroom of these lung irritants.
Dust, vacuum, and wash the sheets regularly. Consider using a HEPA air filter. And watch out for smelly cleaning products — especially chlorine bleach or ammonia — as their odors can trigger symptoms.
If scented deodorant or shampoo poses a problem, consider switching to unscented varieties. If excessive mucus secretion causes trouble, keep a box of tissues at the bedside. Nasal irrigation before sex can help, as can using a mucus-loosening vibrating vest.
- Get a Fan
Recent research has shown that a cool breeze on the face can help ease the distressing shortness of breath that people with COPD often experience during sex. The flow of air can come from an open window or a fan.
“A simple electric fan can really be helpful,” says Goodell. Similarly, keeping the bedroom cool helps keep a buildup of body heat from adding to breathlessness.
- Take Your Medication Before Sex
The short-acting bronchodilators that many people with COPD use before exercise also help prevent coughing and breathlessness during sexual activity. Doctors recommend taking an anticipatory dose about 15 minutes before sex.
“For most people, two puffs or so is enough,” says Goodell. “It’s really a matter of patients testing the waters and knowing what their responses are.”
To get rid of the unpleasant aftertaste that might distract you or offend your partner, rinse out your mouth with an alcohol-containing mouthwash after using the inhaler.
- Consider Using Supplemental Oxygen
If you or your partner finds supplemental oxygen helpful at other times, ask the doctor about using it during sexual activity.
“If you need to wear oxygen while walking, you’ll probably need to use it during sex,” says Sandhaus. The doctor might suggest increasing the flow of oxygen during sexual activity — to accommodate the body’s increased need for oxygen during exertion.
If the partner with COPD doesn’t use supplemental oxygen but wonders if it would help during sex, you can find out with the help of an oximeter, a simple electronic device that the partner with COPD wears on his/her fingertip. If the readout indicates that the oxygen saturation falls below 88%, using supplemental oxygen during sex could prove helpful.
Ask your doctor. He or she might be able to loan you an oximeter. If not, you can buy one for under $50.
(In set three, the final set, we will read about not being afraid to experiment, taking a break and remembering your goal.)
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‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ will continue to feature writings from medical folks and caretakers who share insights into the world of what may be going on in the world of COPD/Asthma. ‘Notes to Know about COPD/Asthma’ can be found at either wheezingaway.com or within the Facebook page, COPD Travels.
Remember – ‘a person without good breathing, is a person without a good life’, so let’s do what we can, to learn what we can, to improve what we can.
I bid to all – smiles, prayers, blessings and steady breathing – Mr. William.
(Copyright@2017, CrossDove Writer through wheezingaway.com – no part of this write may be used or copied without written permission.)
NOTES: Sometimes we share what may seem like medical information, but we are only giving descriptions and highlights of various aspects of having COPD and/or asthma and no way do we ever want our information to be considered medical treatment type of information, always consult your physician for more, clearer and more medical founded information.
Sex is a challenge, so the one with the breathing issue needs to be supported. If the man is ill, the woman needs to keep his physical part to a minimum, as getting and maintaining an errectiin can be incredibly difficult. Focus on cuddling, and be aware that he may be very afraid of his ability to sustain an errection and ejaculate.
Add toys, if you get tired stimulating him, and remember to always be aware of the difficulty in the bedroom for BOTH of you.
Every encounter doesn’t have to end in sex. Cuddling, bathing together, massage are all healthy outlets for both parties.
Additionally, if she is the partner struggling to breathe, girl on top or doggy style may be all she can tolerate – with or without supplemental oxygen – if she cannot tolerate lying flat on her back.
I’m not saying sex is easy. I cannot tolerate kissing without a coughing fit, and we have yet to figure out that trigger. However, being relaxed and accommodating each other are important factors for determining the best way to safely and pkeasurably handle physical intimacy.