Getting Intimate With Asthma
Last updated: May 2022
My partner, who has asthma, decided that he wanted to incorporate more cardio into his workout routine. He decided that he would incorporate running, walking, and hiking into his workout routine. Hiking and walking are fine for him, but after a run, his asthma symptoms would arise, like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. For the first few times he went on a run, he had to use his inhaler immediately. He’s been doing a great job of sticking to his goal and after one of his most recent runs, he did not have to use his inhaler.
I was so proud of him and leaned in to give him a kiss. We kissed for a few seconds, but then he suddenly pulled away (Oh no, do I have bad breath?). He said he just needed a breathe, and then continued to kiss me. And then he pulled away again, starting to cough and wheeze. He tried to play it off like nothing was wrong, but I encouraged him to take a puff of his inhaler. Even though we have been dating for almost 2 years, he was STILL embarrassed to use his inhaler in this situation.
Struggling with intimacy and sex with asthma
I decided to share this story because I am very confident that my partner is not the only one that feels this way. You might not consider using your inhaler “sexy”, but it may be necessary to use before, during, and after being intimate with your partner. Talking about asthma, intimacy, and sex can feel uncomfortable, but it is important because this is an aspect of your asthma that can feel alienating.
Do you feel embarrassed to have sex because you know it will set off your asthma? Well, you are not alone! In a survey done by Asthma UK, two-thirds (68%) of people with asthma said that their sex lives have been directly affected by their condition.1 It is very common for sex to cause asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath to arise. Sadly, these symptoms are enough for some people to completely avoid being intimate with their partners.
Tips for balancing your love life and asthma
1. Honest communication
If you enter into a new relationship, discuss your asthma with your new partner. Although talking about sex (or having sex!) with a new partner can already be awkward, it is important that you bring up your asthma! If you begin to flare up or have an asthma attack during sex, your new partner might have no idea what is going on, or what to do.2
2. Know your triggers
If you have exercise-induced asthma, then it may be more likely that you feel asthma symptoms during sex. Sex and intimacy can increase heart rate, change the rate of your breath, and evoke strong emotions; all of which can trigger an asthma attack!
Additionally, pay attention to your environment. Is there dust in the bedroom? Are there animals around? Is your partner wearing strong perfume or cologne?2
3. Know that you are not alone
As previously demonstrated by the survey statistic, many other people feel as if their asthma affects their sex life. Understand that everyone is self-conscious about SOMETHING, and your "something" might be asthma. It may feel alienating to know that your asthma affects your sex life, but my guess is that you will feel much better if you talk about it.
4. Manage your asthma
If your asthma is well-managed, then intimacy and sex should be less affected by your asthma. If your asthma flares up every time you try to get intimate with your partner, then this could be a sign that your asthma is not well managed.
Intimacy and sex are still possible with asthma
Asthma can affect many aspects of your life, and your love life can be one part. By following the tips above, you may have an easier time being intimate with your partner while also managing your asthma! Try keeping your inhaler next to the bed, and be mindful of the environment that you are in before getting intimate. Explain to your partner that you have asthma, and what they should do if you start to flare up or have an asthma attack. If your partner is not accommodating or respectful, then this may be a red flag that they might not be such a good fit for you.
Are you comfortable asking your partner for help with your asthma?
How often do you experience a shortage in your asthma medication?