Asthma, like many chronic diseases, can adversely affect your sex life. But, there are ways to cope with asthma and lessen its effects.
Does Sex Trigger Asthma?
For many asthma sufferers, exercise and physical activity can jump start an episode of breathing difficulty. The physical requirements of sex might also provoke an episode. For some, emotional excitement is enough to bring on or exacerbate the condition.
"There are people who say sexual difficulties may be related to
," says Ilan H. Myer, PhD, who an asthma researcher. "People with exercise-induced asthma are often told to take their bronchodilator, the medicine that opens up the lungs, in advance as a prophylactic. For instance, if they are going to play basketball, take it before going to the game." Taking a prescribed medicine prior to intimacy may help some people with asthma cope with sexual difficulties, just as it aids those who take it before other types of physical activity.
How Do You Gain Control?
Chronic respiratory difficulties, brought about by poorly controlled asthma, contribute to impaired sexual performance and quality of life. "The more severe your asthma, the more likely you are to have limitations," Meyer says. "It is not a coincidence that these people are complaining. It is related to their asthma."
Better asthma control should improve a patient's sexual functioning and all aspects of life. Working with a doctor, patients can discover which triggers set off an attack and how to avoid these triggers. Additional or different medicines may be needed to reduce the chance of an attack and quickly stop one if it occurs. Patients can also learn to measure how well they are breathing through routine use of a peak flow meter, which can indicate an impending episode before the patient becomes aware of physical warning signs.
"We think sex may be a good motivator for people," Meyer adds. "If they get better control of their asthma and follow the most effective therapies, they can improve their quality of life."
Are There Other Triggers?
Symptoms of asthma are brought on when the airways react to triggers. A trigger is often an allergen, such as dust or pollen. Exposure to allergens in bedding could exacerbate the problem. Some experts think that latex
may play a role for individuals sensitive to latex. By reducing triggers, people with asthma may enjoy a more satisfying sex life.
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Meyer notes that some patients may not even realize that their sexual problems are related to their asthma and encourages patients to bring up the topic with their doctors. "For most people, there are ways to address it," Meyer concludes. "The purpose of asthma control is to improve the quality of life," and that certainly includes your sex life.
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: Expert panel report III: Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2007. (NIH publication no. 08-4051). Full text available online:
Accessed September 1, 2007.
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