Posted on December 12, 2010, under Asthma.
ASTHMA AND SEXSexual problems of any degree can have a detrimental effect on relationships and one’s self-esteem. While a whole range of sexual problems are identified and openly discussed between individuals, special counsellors, doctors, patients and through the media, there is little discussion about the sexual difficulties and embarrassment that can be encountered by asthmatics.A large number of general practitioners said that none of their asthma patients had ever mentioned any sexual difficulties relating to asthma. When further questioned, they admitted they had never asked their patients if sexual activity triggered an attack. Another group of general practitioners said they had discussed sexual activity with some of their asthmatic patients. In these instances, it was usually the doctor who brought up the subject. According to Dr L:I have a number of patients who get asthma during or after sexual activity, but unfortunately most of them were reticent to broach the subject. Many of my patients who have had heart attacks or a stroke have brought up the subject of their future sex life. I think these patients feel more confident to discuss such personal issues because they have very often been counselled by a social worker or a physiotherapist while in hospital. It has been made clear to them that having problems with sexual anxiety after an illness is very normal and affects most people. Because most asthmatics are not chronically sick and can be perfectly well prior to any physical activity, they do not realize that their problem is common, and many lack the confidence to discuss it with their doctor. I make a point to give my asthmatic patients an opportunity to discuss all aspects of their asthma and its effect on their lives by asking a few leading questions. While many would not have brought up the sexual aspect themselves, they are relieved and reassured after talking with me.If you have encountered problems with your asthma during sexual activity, you are not alone. Asthmatics are vulnerable during sexual activity because they are exposed to a number of common triggers: exercise, bedding and dust, as well as possible irritants such as scented soap, perfume, hair spray and aftershave.Fear of developing asthma during sex can be very distressing for both partners. It is important to be totally frank with your partner if you are worried about your asthma. Explain to him or her what asthma is and how it can affect you. In a caring relationship, the asthmatic should expect and receive support and understanding. It is also important to know that most asthmatics are able to enjoy a regular and perfectly normal sex life.Anxiety about having an asthma attack during sexual activity can, in itself, induce asthma symptoms, admits Roberta, 32:No matter how well I was feeling, or how high my peak flow meter reading, I used to become breathless and tight in the chest when I made love. Since I started using Ventolin about five minutes prior to going to bed, this problem has disappeared. I still get short of breath if I have a cold or a slight chest infection, which is the time my asthma always seems to be worse. Fortunately, I have an understanding partner who always makes sure my Ventolin is at hand. When I was younger, I was very embarrassed by using Ventolin before, during or after sexual activity, but now I couldn’t care less. We even joke about it sometimes.Pre-medication is common among asthmatics who know that they normally wheeze or become breathless during sexual activity. Which medicine to take and when to take it should be discussed with your doctor.When considering one’s sex life, it is a good idea to try and eliminate or reduce any known triggers. William, 47, certainly found this to be the case when he met his future wife:When I met my wife, she was addicted to a certain brand of perfume. I did notice that I developed a cough and a slight tightness in my chest the first time we went out together, but it was not till I had an acute attack of asthma in bed one night that I realized that I was having an allergic response to her very strong perfume. Our first sexual encounter ended up with me in the casualty department of Royal North Shore Hospital. While I occasionally wheeze a bit during sexual activity, I have not had a bad attack since my wife stopped wearing perfume.Frankness and understanding between sexual partners, supported if necessary by counselling and prescribed premedication, should resolve most problems and allay any fears about asthma during sexual activity. If you have any problems, you should feel free to talk with your doctor. A caring and understanding doctor should be able to discuss this aspect of your asthma without making you feel awkward or embarrassed.*45\148\2*