Could my contraception cause symptoms?
If you or someone in your family has suffered with blood clots (like pulmonary embolism), the combined pill might not be right for you. Your healthcare professional should talk to you about any risks and other options that could work for you.
If you have asthma, your symptoms might be triggered by a material called latex. Latex is often used to make condoms. You can stay safe by using latex-free condoms instead. Find out how to get them for free on the NHS.
How can I talk to my partner about sex?
Try to talk to your partner openly about any difficulties you’re having, like managing your breathlessness or supporting your partner. Let your partner know what’s going well too.
You could say:
- Can we try out new positions that might help my breathlessness?
- I feel too tired to have sex tonight, could we cuddle instead?
- I need to take regular breaks while we’re having sex.
Brook have more information about how to talk to your partner about sex.
How can I stop getting breathless during sex?
Just like other physical activity, sex can make you breathless. There are a lot of things you can do to manage your breathlessness during sex.
If you have asthma
It’s okay to breathe faster and more deeply during exercise, but breathlessness is a symptom of an asthma attack. Read our information about how sex can trigger asthma instead.
It’s okay to get a bit out of breath when you’re doing any type of physical activity, as long as your breathing goes back to normal quickly. This includes sex. Our breathing techniques can help you manage your breathlessness. You can use these breathing exercises during sex if you need to.
Take your inhaler
If you use a reliever inhaler (usually blue), try taking one or two puffs before sex. This might relieve shortness of breath and wheezing during sex. Keep your inhaler close by in case you need to use it again.
Sex is a type of physical activity. It might make you breathe faster and can raise your heart rate and blood pressure for a short time. Pulmonary rehabilitation could reduce your breathlessness and help you control your symptoms.
Make sure to pace yourself, like you would with other types of exercise. You could try taking it slow, changing positions, or taking turns with sexual activity.
Think about where you have sex
Where you have sex is important. Things like dust, smoke and heavy fragrances can affect your breathing. Read our information about how to improve the air quality in your home.
Think about when you have sex
When you have sex is important. You could try to plan sexual activity, so that you’re having sex when you feel your best. For example, you and your partner could have sex in the morning if your symptoms are worse at night.
Try new things
Try different positions until you find something that feels right for you and your partner.
You could also try using sex toys. For example, using a vibrator or massager may be a good way to pleasure a partner without using too much energy.
If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your breathlessness is to quit. We have more information to help you quit smoking.
Talk to your GP about how breathlessness is affecting you
“It may not be easy for you to talk about your sex life with a healthcare professional,” says Respiratory Nurse Specialist Caroline. “But if you’re having problems, you owe it to yourself and your partner to try to get the right support.”
You might find it easier if you have some questions ready. You could ask:
- My breathlessness is affecting sex with my partner. How can I prevent this?
- What breathing techniques can I use to manage my breathlessness during sex?
- How can I manage my symptoms better?
What should I do if I need to cough during sex?
The best thing to do if you need to cough during sex is speak to your healthcare professional. They can help you work out the cause of the cough.
We have more advice about what to do if you have a cough.
If you have bronchiectasis
You might need to clear your chest of sputum more effectively. Read more about treatments for bronchiectasis.
What position should I have sex in?
Sex is about enjoyment and fun, so try different positions to find ones that feel right for you and your partner.
When you’re having sex, try to avoid:
- positions that put pressure on your chest
- activity that requires you to use your mouth a lot, like oral sex or kissing for a long time
- lying completely flat on your back.
Positions that use less energy may be also more comfortable. For example, holding yourself up by your arms for a long time might use too much energy. Here are some positions that you could try: