British Lung Foundation
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Hi, newbie here my partner has Emphysema recently diagnosed after an x-ray, he has a doctors appointment today and I want to know whether its worth me mentioning the lack of sex.

My partner doesn't think its worth mentioning as they wont do anything but we had a healthy sex life once upon a time but for the last year and half he has struggled with his breathing so much that I think its put him off and he struggles to even get aroused.

I was wondering if anyone on here has had the same issue and if their doctor has prescribed viagra or such like, I already know about all the hints and tips for improving your sex life - I've done my research :) Sadly they haven't helped

16 Replies

Welcome to the site ana05. I can only speak for myself here and I have no qualms in answering the question, though it is very personal.I have been married for 40 years this sept and up to 20 years ago we also had a healthy sex life, until he had a stroke ( no pun intended lol ). Since then he has had many illnesses, culminating in emphysema and now ipf. I love my husband dearly and if no sex is available, then so be it, it's not as important as being together, we have kisses and cuddles, we are best friends, and when his illness claims him fully I will be lost without him. Sorry if this doesn't answer your question, but that's my answer.


Thank you for replying, it may sound like its all I am interested in but its not its just a problem we haven't managed to solve and we both want it to be better hence I was wondering if anyone has found viagra and such like to help. If nothing can be done then so be it I'll stick with cuddles and kisses like you...


my husband also used, (20 yrs ago) to be bothered by the fact that he felt he was letting me down, once I convinced him that it did.nt matter, he was ok with it. I sort of put my self in his position, if I was ill, I would probably feel the same, and be grateful that he loved me enough to stay whatever. Not sure am making sense here lol



this is a strange one as i was out of breath after making love with my wife this was before i knew it was copd for sure.....

but i left her anyhow so i didnt think about it all that much really till i saw this question today and it sunk in that ive had copd a bit longer than i though.....

i hope you do have an active sex life as its good exercise and exercise is the key !


Sex ........ what is that? ;) I haven't had sex for thirteen years when i lost my husband - except for a few years ago when i had my first and only try at a relationship. I didn't know at the time that i had copd although i was to be diagnosed a year or so later. I had sex ...fine .... then passed out! Since being diagnosed, and now on oxygen, i have wondered a couple of times if i might be able to have a relationship without scaring some poor chap to death. The problem now of course is finding someone who can still feel romantic faced with someone wearing a cannula and 02 tubing running down the side of the bed lol!

I am a diligent student so have carefully read up on positions, options for wearing the cannula with the tubing running over my shoulder, up over the headboard and then out of sight. Or keeping a nightie / T.shirt on and pegging the cannula to it part way down the side so its out of the way - or just rolling around in abandon and having a good old laugh when we find ourselves wound up tightly together in it ...... hmmm, think i had better stick to cocoa and a good book for the time being ;) ...... but in my imagination - now that's another thing entirely - Mata Hari eat your heart out ;)

Bless you for asking the question - it's one that's rarely aired. Do, do, do get him to mention it to the GP. There is no reason not to have sex and once his respiratory meds are sorted - and oxygen should he need it - things may improve naturally. It will very much depend on the degree of his illness too. And if he needs or wants it, Viagra shouldn't be out of the question so long as the Doc thinks he is otherwise physically ok. In the meantime, lots of love and cuddles and reassurance and thankfulness for each other. Treasure your moments together, i know only too well how quickly things can change. Good luck to you both, P.


PS. The 'man of the moment' in my account - who i had been seeing for six months and thought was Mr. Wonderful, suddenly decided i wasn't for him. "Your breathing isn't right' he said. " I stay awake at night watching you because you don't seem to breathe when you're asleep, it's like you are dead" ... how romantic, i thought, he watches over me while i sleep ..... then, after the times i passed out, once in bed, once when out together on a cliff path walk .... "I reckon there's something seriously wrong with you and i'm not staying around to watch you die!" .... and he was gone. I broke my heart and cried myself to sleep like a teenager for a few nights. Back to loneliness. The oddest thing though - in my sadness i completely forgot about my passing out, and it never occurred to me to tell a doctor.


oh I just had a good giggle at your blog, men can be so considerate, way of dealing with anything negative has to be with humour, good on ya. xx


well reading what exsperiences you have gone through Parvati it cheered me up no end and I had to laugh at it all it is the case with me sex for years and years and have not gone out for a partener because of the emphysema. I have oxygen when I need it ..but I have never gone as far as you to pass out I would love to have a meaningfull relationship but it worries me for the same issues you had... so I dont go out looking and stay at home much its easier anyway coz ya dont have to get out of breath I shop and cook and as far as I can clean. but bless you for the insight into your sex issue thank you


intimate is what counts - other stuff dont


soooo true looking for the same


This sort of thing is covered in pulmonary rehabilitation, PR is a course that helps us manage our illness in many different ways. I always recommend pulmonary rehabilitation for any one diagnosed with a lung condition.

The BLF have produced a leaflet titled " Sex and breathlesness " it is a

" Health information leaflet giving advice on sex and breathlessness "

your may find this useful.

Check out other publications available through BLF:


i was informed by my doctor "if your going to do anything intimate, take your salbutomol first". i've tried this and it does help.


Hello, I would say Viagra is very useful, if using it, then use it in tiny doses first to test it out.


Hi Ana05

As you say,your lack of sex is because of your partners breathing and unfortunately Viagra won't help with that.

There are way's of having a good sexual relationship without going all out at it.

Yes you should mention it to the Doctor,not being able to get aroused could be because of something totally different,remember it costs nothing to ask.



Beg to differ with that Alan,

Viagra will definitely help,

whether a person is ill or not:

if the building was in a bad state of disrepair, toppled over, Viagra will fully renovate it and have it standing in an upright position a la The BIg Build on BBC TV.


Well no Aspic, it just gave me a stiff neck


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