Sexuality

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, can impact many areas of everyday life. Sexuality is no exception. Heartburn, burning in the chest and throat, and shortness of breath can happen before or during sexual activity. 

In both instances, it can make the idea of sex unpleasant or can be frustrating for someone experiencing these symptoms. Fear of experiencing symptoms of GERD during sexual activity may make someone avoid sex altogether.

Sex can be a trigger for GERD symptoms because acid reflux can occur with physical exertion. However, other sex-related factors—including food and eating habits, sexual positions, and some sexual enhancement medications—can also contribute to acid reflux triggered by sex.

Here are some easy tricks to prevent acid reflux during sex:

  • Avoid spicy and citrus foods, which can contribute to GERD.
  • Don’t have sex after eating a big meal. Eat something light or delay sex until food has had an opportunity to digest.
  • Avoid sexual positions that require lying flat, as they can make GERD symptoms worse. The best sexual positions are those that allow a semi or fully upright position, such as sitting in a chair or standing.
  • Avoid sexual positions that put pressure on the stomach, as this can push acid into the mouth.
  • Take antacids prior to sex.
  • Know side effects of medications. Some, including over-the-counter medicines, prescription medications, and sexual enhancement medications contribute to heartburn. Talk to your health care provider about alternative medications.
  • Know your body’s triggers for acid reflux. Knowing what causes it can help you know what to avoid.
  • Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling. If you’re not feeling up to having sex, express intimacy in other ways. 
  • Stop having sex if you experience GERD or GERD-related symptoms. Continuing to exert yourself will only make it worse.
  • See your health care provider and determine which treatment is best for you. Report any symptoms you have experienced during sex.

Most importantly, know that your sex life isn’t over. Learn what steps to take to make sex easier and avoid acid reflux attacks during sexual activity. A satisfying sex life is still possible.