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Intimacy and Heart Disease: Talking with Your Partner

An intimate relationship is built on the ability to share feelings, honestly and openly in a supportive environment. This can be a problem for people who have found out that they have a heart problem. It is normal for the stress and worry of your heart problem to upset this closeness. It can even cause sexual problems or tension that didn't previously exist. Ask your doctor when it is appropriate for you to resume sexual activity. Talking honestly with your partner is the first step to rebuilding intimacy. The tips below can help you get started.

Older man talking with older woman.Rebuilding intimacy

Talking to your partner about your feelings may be hard for you. But keeping them to yourself can make both of you feel more distant. To rebuild intimacy, you both need to talk openly. This will help each of you understand and work through your feelings. It will also help reduce stress. When you talk:

  • Choose a time and a place when you are both relaxed.

  • Listen to each other. Then acknowledge each other’s concerns. Remember not to interrupt or criticize.

  • Give each other support. This is a difficult time for both of you.

  • Try to understand each other. Each person's feelings and fears are different.

Notes to your partner

  • Listen to what your partner says. Try to be patient and supportive.

  • Talk openly about your own feelings, but don’t blame them on your partner.

  • Remember that your feelings will pass. But it’s still important to talk about them.

  • Know that having sex when you’re both ready won’t harm your partner.

When to get help

You and your partner may find it hard to talk about feelings. Or you may not be able to understand each other’s feelings. That’s when another person can help.

  • Try talking together with a doctor, nurse, or counselor. Or you might want to join a cardiac support group or talk with a friend.

  • If you feel depressed or have no desire for sex, talk to your doctor. Your medicines may be affecting your desire or your ability to have sex.

  • It's important to understand that this is a period of change for your body and it will take time to get used to new ways of doing things.


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