It’s easy to overlook your sexual health when dealing with a chronic illness, especially if you deal with acute symptoms that are more pressing. However, intimacy is important to many people. Discovering that you struggle to connect with your partner or get as much enjoyment out of sex as you once did can take a toll on your mental health. That’s why it’s important to be aware of chronic conditions that can impact your sex life and speak frankly to your doctor and partner about it.
10 Conditions That Can Impact Your Sexual Health
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease, attacks, and failure can contribute to sexual health concerns because your heart doesn’t work optimally. You probably know that proper blood flow is necessary for a strong erection. However, blood is also the source of vaginal lubrication. The result? Low desire, performance problems, painful sex, and difficulty having an orgasm, all of which can lead to anxiety about sex.
2. High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), you may suffer from sexual health issues in two ways. First, high blood pressure causes arteries to harden over time, decreasing blood flow. Diuretics and beta-blockers commonly prescribed to those with high blood pressure can also impede blood flow and sexual performance.
When it comes to diabetes, imbalanced blood sugar is just the tip of the iceberg. The condition can decrease desire and vaginal lubrication in women. Women with diabetes are also more susceptible to yeast and urinary tract infections which make sex painful.
Diabetes also poses potential ramifications for men because it lowers testosterone, a hormone that plays a role in sex drive. Furthermore, diabetes degrades blood vessels, making it more difficult to get hard.
Because arthritis causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in at least one joint, it can make sex more painful and less pleasurable. This is especially true of positions and activities that are physically demanding. However, you may be able to adjust your activities to decrease pain so you can still enjoy sex.
Not only does depression decrease interest in our favorite activities, including sex, but the medications used to treat it are notorious for impeding libido, erections, and orgasms. If you experience depression, treating it might alleviate your sexual health concerns However, if you find that your prescription impacts your sex life, discuss options with your doctor.
You may not want to slip between the sheets when your eyes are itchy and your nose is running. But medications that provide relief may create sexual problems. This is particularly true of antihistamines because they dry out more than just your sinuses. The resulting painful sex can seriously dampen libido. Fortunately, you might still be able to have pleasurable sex by using a personal lubricant.
Both cancer and chemotherapy can wreak havoc on your body. You may feel tired and weak, not to mention less than attractive, because of their harsh effects. Low desire, erection problems, and vaginal dryness are all common with chemotherapy. Surgical interventions can also cause pain and scarring that can interfere with your love life.
Unsurprisingly, sex can sometimes trigger an asthma attack that requires you to use an inhaler. Of course, it’s not a big deal if you let your partner know that this might happen. Suggest positions that allow for easy breathing, and keep your inhaler within reach. People who manage their asthma well are less likely to have sexual health problems.
The human immunodeficiency virus, which can sometimes develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is inextricable from sex, which transmits it and suffers because of it. Some people may become abstinent because they don’t want to infect others or wish to avoid the stigma of HIV. Rates of depression and anxiety, both of which impact sex drive and satisfaction, are higher for those with HIV than those without. Fortunately, there are ways to effectively treat HIV to prevent AIDS, improve patients’ quality of life, and prevent transmission to restore sexual satisfaction.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one respiratory illness that can cause muscle weakness, fatigue, and decreased stamina, making sex undesirable, difficult, or painful. Sexual activity can also can shortness of breath that potentially leads to low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia). Some people have experienced relief by using their inhalers before become intimate with their partners.
Talk About Sexual Health
If you have one of the conditions listed above, don’t be ashamed to talk about your sexual health with your doctor. They can recommend treatments or medications that can improve not just your time in bed but also your overall quality of life.
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