Images of Romance

Romance is in the air!

Valentine’s Day brings up images of romance. Have you been afraid to be intimate with your loved one because you may become short of breath?

Your idea of being sexually attractive does not include having a cannula on your face? No fear, we are going to give you lessons! We like how the Alpha-1 Advocacy Alliance puts it –“Sex and COPD – We ain’t dead yet!”

The most important thing you can do is to openly discuss your feelings with your loved one. You may think they do not find you attractive any more, when in reality, they are afraid they may be putting you under too much stress to engage in sexual activities. You might also bring up the subject during a pulmonary rehabilitation or Better Breather support group meeting. You might learn hints from others that have helped them stay close
in their relationships.

First of all, you don’t have to have sex to make love. Perhaps you could simply share a glass of wine together. Throw out the old bedding and try investing in luxurious pillow, blankets and sheets to cuddle in. Maybe get the room painted in a pink or red shade. Surprise your partner with something out of the ordinary!

Our friends at the Canadian Lung Association have these tips for you to consider:

COPD does not diminish sexual ability; it is only the frequency of sexual activity that is limited, as are all strenuous physical activities.

The physical effort required for sexual intercourse is approximately equal to that required to climb one flight of stairs at a normal pace.

Beginning an exercise program will help to build up the COPD person’s tolerance to activity and in turn help to reduce shortness of breath with activity.

Research findings show that the effort required for intercourse does not raise blood pressure, heart rate and respiration rate to a level that is considered dangerous. Medication specific for your lungs will not affect your sexual drive; however, if you are taking other medications (e.g., antidepressants), it is important to ask your physician how these may interfere with your sexual drive. Some changes in sexuality are not related to your lung disease but are normal changes with aging. For instance, slower erections and delayed orgasms are normal in
middle and later life.

Because of the physical effort required, it is important to have adequate rests both before and during sexual relations. In other words, plan your activity for your best time of day and rest at intervals during the activity if necessary.

Clear bronchial secretions prior to sexual activity.
Plan to have sexual activity immediately after using a bronchodilator.

If you use supplemental oxygen for activity, plan to use the same amount of oxygen during sexual relations.

Avoid sexual activity immediately after a heavy meal, after consuming alcohol, in an uncomfortable room temperature or when under emotional stress. All of these factors will only increase your fatigability.

Choose sex positions that are less energy consuming and that avoid pressure on the chest. For instance, side-to-side position during intercourse is more comfortable and less tiring than the top-bottom position. Have the able-bodied partner assume a more active role so that the COPD partner becomes less fatigued
or anxious.

Avoid allergic elements in the environment (e.g., perfumes, hair sprays) that may induce bronchospasm. Remember that simply touching, being touched and being close to someone are essential to help a person feel
loved, special and truly a partner in the relationship.
If you want to read books on the subject, we recommend “Being Close” from the National Jewish Medical Center. It is available free of charge by calling 1-800-222-LUNG. You may ask questions of the health professional who answers this help line. Information is also on their web site at


Dick and Sandy King always find excitement in life!