Nearly half of people with asthma say their condition gets in the way of their sex life1, according to new research from Asthma + Lung UK.
The new analysis, based on a survey of more than 2,000 adults in the UK with asthma, shows that getting between the sheets can be tricky for people with the respiratory condition, as a shocking one in ten (11%) people have had an asthma attack during sex2. This comes as Asthma + Lung UK issues advice for the 4.3million adults in the UK with asthma on how to safely enjoy Valentine’s Day.
The results show how asthma can stop romance in its tracks – and even land people in hospital with a life-threatening asthma attack.
The survey also found:
- A quarter (25%) of people with asthma had to change positions to ease their breathing during sex3
- One in three (31%) people say asthma makes them less sexually confident4
- Nearly four in ten (38%) people felt embarrassed about using their inhaler on a date
- One in five (21%) of people had to use their inhaler during sex5
- And one in three people (32%) have had to cut a date short or cancel it altogether because they were experiencing asthma symptoms6.
While romance might be intended to take your breath away, for some it can leave them reaching for an inhaler or even the phone to call 9997. Survey respondents said that asthma can stop them making love altogether.
One survey respondent said: “There is no sex in our house. I’ve been intubated and ventilated 25 times and resuscitated twice. I get breathless taking my clothes off.” Others said that they felt “too wheezy to be in the mood”, and that they “Couldn’t breathe through my nose when I’m kissing.”
A quarter (25%) of people with asthma had to stop sex because of their asthma8. Although perfume or scented candles can help to set a romantic mood, more than half (55%) of people with asthma found their symptoms were triggered by it9. Even a bouquet of red roses can cause symptoms to flare up in almost a quarter (23%)10 of people.
Sammi Standley, a 25-year-old residential care worker from Southampton, says asthma led to the break-up of a previous relationship.
Sammi said: “A previous partner said asthma was driving a wedge between us. After we broke up, I was scared to let someone in because I thought they would judge me for my asthma. When I met my current partner, I hid my symptoms from him and didn’t let him know how much I was struggling.
“I realised that I couldn’t hide my asthma from him and ever since he’s been there for me, even in the ambulance and resuscitation room. There are times when he feels more like my carer than my partner, and sometimes I’m too tired or poorly to be intimate with him. But when I feel well, we make up for it! Asthma is a part of me and because he loves me, we have been able to keep the romance alive.”
Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “As these figures show, asthma can affect not just your health, but your love life. If you find your symptoms are dampening the mood during a date or spoiling your sex life, it could be a sign that your asthma is not well managed.
“The good news is asthma doesn’t have to get in the way of romance. The best way to reduce the risk of symptoms getting in the way of a special moment is to make sure your asthma is well managed. This means taking your preventer medicine every day as prescribed, even if you feel well, using your written asthma action plan, and going for regular asthma reviews. Make sure you always take your reliever inhaler out with you in case you do have asthma symptoms. Do not feel embarrassed about going to your GP – they’ve heard it all before. For more advice on how to manage your asthma and sex and relationships, visit www.asthma.org.uk/valentines-day ”
Notes to Editors:
1 We surveyed 2072 people between the 5th and 7th of February 2020 through an online survey. Of those, 44% of people said asthma had gotten in the way of their sex life.
7 We surveyed 2072 people for three days the 5th and 7th of February 2020 through an online survey. Respondents were able to answer in a free text box.
8-10 We surveyed 2072 people for three days the 5th and 7th of February 2020 through an online survey