Sexual activity and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) does not necessarily reduce your desire for or your ability to have sex. Many people avoid having sex, however, because they are afraid of becoming short of breath. This can greatly add to feelings of guilt or low self-esteem as well as add to your stress level as you try to deal with a chronic disease.

Decreased interest in sex is often attributed to aging. In fact, most older adults continue to be sexually active, although at a slower pace.

Modifications in sexual activity may be helpful to conserve energy and breath. Choosing the time of day when breathing is easiest can help. A side-by-side position and focusing more attention on caressing can be less tiring. You may find you need to take a medication, such as a bronchodilator, before having sex to reduce your shortness of breath.

Last Updated: May 8, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS & Cynthia Tank

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology

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