About bypass surgery
Open-heart bypass surgery is a very traumatic operation. Your chest is opened and blood vessels are grafted from another part of the body, like the legs, to replace the damaged vessels in the heart. This means that the inside of one or both legs will be cut open from the knee down in search of healthy veins for the heart.
The recovery from these surgical wounds, including the chest, are painful and slow. Processing this traumatic event may also take time, and for a while it will be difficult to move around.
At this stage, sex will be the last thing on your mind – but eventually it will come up again.
Getting back into the sexual mode
According to the American Heart Association, after traditional open-heart bypass surgery with no complications, it is usually safe to resume sex in 6 to 8 weeks. However, it is advisable to first discuss things with your doctor or cardiologist, before taking the plunge.
Emotional issues after cardiac surgery are very common, and sometimes lead to depression. This, combined with a measure of soreness, can make patients even less keen to partake in sexual activity. There could be poor sexual response, a lack of desire, and fears about actually resuming sexual relations.
Medications such as blood pressure lowering drugs, and antidepressant meds, may also result in low libido issues. Fortunately if patients are experiencing sexual problems due to prescribed meds, the doctor should be able to adjust the dosage, or change to a formulary which has no sexual-related side effects.
Dealing with fears
There are certain fears which may hold folk back from gradually getting into shape and rebuilding confidence in the bedroom.
Here are some of them:
- People may worry about chest pains and a possible heart attack. However, if you have been given the all-clear for sex, this seldom happens.
- If you are okay to exercise, then it is usually okay to have sex.
- If you are afraid to have sex because you are sometimes suddenly short of breath or fatigued, wait for another time when you are feeling more energetic.
- Many folk are afraid that the chest incision may burst open. Although anything is possible, doctors agree that the chest scar heals very well. However, they recommend that you avoid putting extra pressure or strain on the chest in order to protect the sternum.
- You may be afraid of causing pain in the chest area. Practitioners have suggested that placing a pillow across the chest will support the sternum, and not cause any irritation to lingering soreness or twinges in the scar. It has also been suggested that you choose a comfortable sex position which will not put strain on your body.
What partners can do
If you are a partner of a cardiac operation patient, you can help get you sex life back to normal. Talking through concerns and supporting your partner during exercise, will go a long way to speeding up recovery, and getting your life in general – and of course your sex life back on track.
Being kind, gentle, and loving, helps to promote sexual intimacy more than anything else.
We can help
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