I’m embarrassed to tell my new boyfriend/girlfriend I have asthma
I’m worried I’ll get asthma symptoms at a romantic moment
I don’t want to use my reliever inhaler on a date
I’m concerned that sex will trigger my asthma symptoms
My partner is holding back because they’re worried sex will give me an asthma attack
Other asthma triggers to be aware of on romantic occasions
Some people feel embarrassed about telling a new partner they have asthma. But there’s no need to be. If you’re spending a lot of time with someone, it’s a good idea to tell them you have asthma and let them know what to do if you have an asthma attack.
It’s important to let your partner know if you have any particular triggers or allergies. It might seem awkward, but may stop any embarrassment if your partner cooks you something, gives you a gift or takes you somewhere that may set off your asthma symptoms.
Keep it simple at first:
- tell them where you keep your reliever inhaler and spacer, in case they ever need to help you get it.
- show them your written asthma action plan, so they know more about your asthma and how you manage it.
If you’ve been diagnosed with severe asthma, the symptoms can be harder to manage and can get in the way of everyday life. Because of this, you might decide to talk to your partner about what severe asthma is and how it affects you.
Some people find that strong emotions like excitement and nervousness can trigger asthma symptoms like breathlessness and coughing.
If you’re worried this may happen at the wrong time, whether you’re on a first date or having a romantic evening with a long-term partner, you’re not alone.
The best way to reduce the risk of symptoms getting in the way of a special moment is to make sure your asthma’s well managed. This means:
- taking your preventer medicine every day as prescribed, in the correct way, even if you feel well
- using your written asthma action plan
- going for regular asthma reviews
- taking your reliever inhaler out with you, in case you do have asthma symptoms.
If you’re managing your asthma well, you’re less likely to need to use your reliever inhaler when you’re out on a date.
But if you do need to use it, try not to worry. If you feel self-conscious, you could go to the bathroom to use it, as long as you feel well enough to get there. Tell your date you’re having asthma symptoms, so they can check if you’re okay if you don’t come back quickly. And make sure you leave the door unlocked, so someone can get to you if you need help.
Some people find having sex triggers their asthma symptoms. This could be due to intense emotions like excitement, or the effects of physical activity.
Again, making sure your asthma is well managed is the best way to stop this happening.
If you do get symptoms, it doesn’t need to spoil the moment:
- Keep your reliever inhaler handy, so you can use it quickly and easily.
- Wait until your symptoms have stopped and you feel better, then you can carry on if you want to. Focus on calming your breathing down.
- Make sure you know what to do if symptoms don’t go away. Your written asthma action plan will tell you.
If you’re still worried about sex triggering your asthma, have a chat with your GP or asthma nurse. Try not to feel embarrassed – they're used to talking about intimate issues and will want to help you. For example, they might be able to suggest changes to your asthma medicines. You could also read our page on sex as an asthma trigger.
Remember, you can call our asthma nurses on 0300 222 5800 (9am - 5pm; Mon - Fri) if you have any worries, or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606728.
People with severe asthma may need some more specific help with sex – take a look at our page on sex and relationships if you have severe asthma.
It’s great to have a partner who wants to help you stay well with your asthma, but their concerns needn’t get in the way of sex.
Encourage them to read our page about sex, which explains how to enjoy a fulfilling sex life while managing the possible risks.
You could also take them to an appointment with your GP or asthma nurse so they can talk about their concerns. Or you could suggest they contact our Helpline.
An open fire can create a romantic atmosphere, but some people with asthma find that smoke triggers symptoms. Create the mood you want with low lighting instead, or try LED or unscented candles.
Perfumes and other scents
Some people with asthma tell us that scents like perfumes, fragranced toiletries and scented candles can trigger symptoms. If these are a trigger for you, avoid using them yourself.
It’s natural to feel awkward telling a date that their perfume, aftershave, deodorant or body lotion is affecting your asthma, especially if you’ve only just started seeing them.
- make it clear that any strong scent can cause problems for you, so they don't take it personally
- open a window to help prevent any strong scents triggering your symptoms. However, be mindful if cold air is an asthma trigger for you.
Some people with asthma find their symptoms are triggered by latex, which is often used to make condoms.
The good news is that latex-free condoms are widely available, so there’s no need for this trigger to get in the way of your sex life.
Food and drink
Last updated February 2021
Next review due February 2024