Yes, if you experience chest pain during sex, there may be reason to be concerned.
Although not all chest pain during sex will be diagnosed as a serious problem, the pain could be a sign of coronary heart disease (CHD), such as angina (reduced blood flow to the heart).
Aerobic activity increases your breathing and heart rate, and just like walking, running, cycling, and swimming, sex is an aerobic activity. Any form of aerobic activity, including sex, can trigger angina.
According to a 2012 study, penile-vaginal sexual intercourse increases your heart’s demand for oxygen and elevates your heart rate and blood pressure to levels comparable with climbing two flights of stairs.
The highest levels are the 10 to 15 seconds prior to reaching orgasm.
An older article from 2002 indicated that it’s unlikely that you’d experience angina during sex if you don’t experience angina during other physical activity.
You should stop any heavy exertion, including sex, if you’re experiencing:
Your next step is to visit a doctor or other healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Just like risks associated with any similar aerobic activity, according to a
- For every 10,000 people who have sex once a week, only 2 to 3 will experience a heart attack. This is the same rate as if they had engaged in an hour of additional physical activity.
- Coital angina, which occurs during or soon after sexual activity, represents less than 5 percent of all anginal attacks, according to a
As for your risk of dying during sex, it’s incredibly rare.
The rates of sudden death during sex are 0.6 to 1.7 percent. Men represent 82 to 93 percent of the small number of deaths that occur during sex.
The privacy of your bedroom is a good place to keep an eye out for signs of heart disease, the leading cause of death for women and men.
Indicators to look out for include:
- Chest pain. If you’re physically inactive, the physical exertion of sex could be your first indication of potential heart problems.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED). ED and heart disease have similar symptoms. If you or your partner are experiencing erectile dysfunction, see a doctor or other provider to check for heart disease.
- Snoring. Sleep apnea can be an underlying cause of heart disease. Oxygen being cut off during sleep apnea has also been linked to heart failure, stroke, heart arrhythmia, and high blood pressure.
- Hot flashes. If you experience hot flashes (which commonly increase in frequency at night) and are a woman under 45, you have an increased risk of heart disease.
Sex shouldn’t be a problem even if you have:
- a history of heart attack
- mild angina
- controlled arrhythmia
- stable heart disease
- mild or moderate valve disease
- mild heart failure
- a pacemaker
- an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
The American Heart Association indicates that “it is probably safe to have sex if your cardiovascular disease has stabilized.”
Generally, it’s suggested that if you can exercise to the point of building up a light sweat without symptoms appearing, it should be safe for you to engage in sexual activity.
Before resuming sexual activity, you should have a thorough exam including a stress test. The results of the test will give you an indication of what you can physically handle in regards to sex and other activities.
Experiencing chest pain during sex is something you should discuss with your doctor. It could be a sign of heart disease.
Sexuality can be important to your health and quality of life. If you exhibit the signs of heart disease, you need to be checked out by a doctor or other healthcare provider.
Once a diagnosis is complete and treatment options have been determined, ask your provider whether it’s safe for you to participate in sexual activity.
Following a heart attack or surgery, ask your provider how long you should wait before resuming sexual activity.