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Sex After a Stroke: 5 Sexual Changes You Should Know

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Few things are perhaps as frightening to a man as a stroke.

The idea that a deadly ailment can seemingly strike out of the blue and incapacitate us is a thought few likely spend a lot of time marinating on. However, as we age and our healthy habits decline somewhat, it’s a threat that we must begin to take more seriously. Sticking our heads in the proverbial sand isn’t the solution in this case.

During a stroke, blood circulation to the brain is temporarily impeded. This deprives our brain cells of the oxygen and nutrients they require for normal function. The results can be relatively mild, or catastrophic—leading to brain damage or physical disabilities in the aftermath.

A stroke brings an incredible amount of physical and mental stresses and side effects which can touch all different aspects of our lives. Some of these may include:

  • Introduction of new medications
  • Onset of new disabilities
  • Incurring of medical care debt
  • Adjusting to new appointments with doctors or physical therapists

One other area that may be afflicted after a stroke is our function in the bedroom. While in the immediate period after a stroke sex may not be at the top of your or your partners’ mind, as life continues forward the subject will undoubtedly come up.

Can A Stroke Cause Impotence (ED)?

First of all, it’s possible, but rare that a stroke causes sexual issues like erectile dysfunction. However, a stroke and its corresponding severity can have a direct effect on your desire, ability, and confidence when it comes to sexual intercourse.

In fact, the stress brought on by the lifestyle and physical changes resulting from a stroke can have a negative impact on your sex life. A temporary time of adaptation will likely be necessary.

Fortunately, at least one study conducted by the American Stroke Association found that upwards of 80% of men who reported encountering ED in the wake of their strokes, regained normal function within months.

Sex and Relationships: Primary Concerns After a Stroke

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The good news is that, like the other new challenges you’ll be facing as a stroke survivor, you should be able to overcome these influences and regain a healthy sex life with your partner.

Recovery will require time and patience though, but if both members of the couple are open minded and willing to make adjustments, then reintroducing intimacy is not only achievable, but may be necessary to help return to some semblance of “normal.”

Of course, this won’t be easy. There are a myriad of concerns that generally arise for men who have weathered a stroke. For many men, significant lifestyle changes will be necessary.

In addition, the relationship between partners will have likely changed; if your partner has assumed more of a caregiver role than a romantic one, it can be challenging to switch back and forth.

Five of the most common concerns regarding sex after a stroke are outlined below.

1. Fear of Another Stroke

After experiencing one stroke, it’s only natural to be fearful of another. The quickening heart rate, blood pressure, and increased breathing associated with sexual activity can all coalesce into a seemingly unnecessary risk.

Fortunately, the likelihood of suffering a stroke during sexual activity is little to none. Despite what our egos might have us believe, for most men the amount of energy expended during sex is equivalent to climbing a flight of stairs. In other words, this fear is in your head—so don’t let it stop you from enjoying your life after a stroke.

2. Decreased Sex Drive

Our mental and emotional health have a large effect on our sex lives. As a stroke survivor, you may become preoccupied with financial worries, or struggle with body image and self-esteem perceptions.

This can understandably keep you out of “the mood” for an extended period of time. More than that, some medications like antidepressants and beta blockers can also have a negative influence on libido.

The best bet here is to speak with your doctor if you have been prescribed any meds, and follow this up with individual or couples therapy sessions to help find ways to kick-start your sexual desires again.

3. Immobility or Paralysis

An unfortunate result of some strokes is the inability to fully control arm and leg movements like you used to. Paralysis of one entire side of the body is also a potential disability. This obviously makes certain positions near impossible.

Pillows can be used for support in some cases, but an open mind and willingness to experiment in the name of comfort for both parties can help overcome a lack of physical ability.

4. Depression

The development of depression is unfortunately a common side effect for many stroke survivors. While depression itself undoubtedly affects one’s sex life, the prescriptions recommended by your doctor can also play a role.

Poststroke depression (PSD) is common, affecting approximately one third of stroke survivors at any one time after stroke.

Speaking with your doctor about how your medications are impacting your life may result in alternative options that do not carry the same side effects.

5. Aphasia

Aphasia is the inability to speak or understand spoken language. This makes easy, open communication—a necessity for intimacy—difficult to accomplish.

If you are suffering from aphasia after your stroke, creativity becomes key. Touching, caressing, or non-verbal cues and gestures can all help convey love and desire between partners. It may take time and a lot of effort, but your happiness is worth it.

Consult a Men’s Medical Professional About Sexual Dysfunction After a Stroke

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No matter what, the first thing men should do when considering how and when to resume sexual activity, is consult with a trusted medical professional.

Your doctor is more than willing to discuss your concerns and help advise you as to whether sex after a stroke is safe for your situation, and how best to go about it. The other important step is to consult with your partner, and discuss the options you both have and your comfort level with each.

Once you’re both ready, sexual activity in the wake of a stroke can be yet another challenge the two of you can face and overcome together. If you’re having issues with erectile dysfunction or low testosterone symptoms after a stroke, call the team at Preferred Men’s Medical Center today to schedule an appointment to have a consultation with their experienced and specially trained medical staff.

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