I Have A Pacemaker. Is It Safe To Have Intercourse?

Question: I have a pacemaker. Is it safe for me to have sexual intercourse?

Answer: Many people have questions about sexual activity, and this is an area where, let's be honest, many patients feel uncomfortable talking to their doctor about, and, well, I'll tell you from the doctor side, we often don't raise the question. We are too timid about this because -- this is an important lifestyle issue, this is an important quality of life issue, and these questions are common. People with pacemakers have a pacemaker implanted usually to ensure that if their heart starts to slow down, or if they develop any problems with the beating of the heart, that this can take over for them.

Now, most of the time, this actually improves their exercise tolerance. There's no reason why someone who has a pacemaker should think that they can't engage in sexual activity. In fact, it may be that the presence of the pacemaker has made it safer for them to do so, but like any activity that you are going to undertake, this is a good thing to talk to your doctor about, to make sure that there's an issue about the pacemaker, but to make sure that with the heart, there are other issues that you should consider.

But sexual activity, like most other physical activity, is just a matter of people talking to their doctor about, understanding what they can do, and then pursuing it as they wish. I will say that within the area of cardiovascular disease, we've made a big sea change with regard to our views of physical activity over the last 40 years. If you remember when people talk about when Eisenhower had his heart attack, he was in bed for a month or more. We get people out of bed soon now. We encourage people to have physical activity, we think it's better for them. So, sexual activity's part and parcel of that, and we want people to be living full, active lives as safely as they can.

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