“One reliever inhaler sits in my ‘sex box’ with the lube and condoms!”

Lindsay, 23, is a young woman with no intention of letting her asthma control her sex life. But she hasn’t quite got it perfect, and she tells us why.

Lindsay smiling

“I’ve had asthma for as long as I can remember. It used to be terrible when I was younger, but as I’ve grown I’ve learnt to manage it well. I’m a super social and sexual person, so I definitely don’t let it affect my love life! But I know there are some things I need to work on.”

Phone, money, keys, inhaler

“I love going out with mates and dates, and go to bars and clubs most weekends when I’m not working. My trusty inhaler comes with me wherever I go, which has meant I’ve conquered the precious skill of fitting it between the other stuff in my clutch bag perfectly.

"For most people it’s ‘phone, money, keys’ before they go out, but for me it’s ‘phone, money, keys, inhaler’. Getting a second reliever inhaler changed the game for me. There’s always one at home in the same place, and one in my bag.”

Night time asthma symptoms

“My love life is always complicated, and my asthma can sometimes be a part of that. My asthma symptoms tend to appear during the night, which can be quite terrifying. Being woken up because you’re struggling to breathe isn’t great, and trying to be breathless quietly so you don’t wake up the person next to you is tricky!

"I can sometimes struggle to mentally calm down after relieving my symptoms, so I’ll go for a walk, have some water, and maybe read until I feel sleepy again. I know deep down that I should wake my partner up to support me, but I always feel bad doing that. I’m so used to managing my asthma on my own that I’d rather just get on with it.”

Asthma-friendly sex positions

“When it comes to sex, I’m not ashamed to get my inhaler involved, and not in a kinky way. One reliever inhaler sits in my ‘Sex Box’ with the lube and condoms! It’s always there so I can grab it mid-sex if needed.

"Having to reach for it can change the vibes of an intimate moment, but I’d rather be able to breathe than feel sexy! I just tell my partner that I need to rest for a moment and do something less vigorous. Positions that open my chest up really help, like having my top half propped up on a pillow, or sitting up rather than lying flat.”

Breath control

“I’m still working on managing my symptoms during sex. Because I tend to get breathless, I’ve got into a bad habit of just holding my breath, especially when I’m kissing or during oral. I know this isn’t a great way of managing my symptoms so I mentioned it in my last asthma review.

"I thought that would be an embarrassing conversation but it was so helpful and so normal! We spoke about breath control techniques, how to remind myself to breathe in the moment, and how to mentally feel ok about breathing well during sex so I don’t feel anxious. I've been doing more exercise outside the bedroom too, which has helped me practise the techniques.”

How to talk about sex and asthma

No one wants asthma to interrupt a passionate moment. Avoid the awkwardness, by talking about it before having sex.

Video: How to talk about sex and asthma

No one wants asthma to interrupt a passionate moment. Avoid the awkwardness, by talking about it before having sex.
Transcript for 'How to talk about sex and asthma'

0:04 By the way, I might get a bit breathless during sex

0:07 but not in a good way.

0:09 I thought asthma wasn’t a big deal

0:11 It’s not always a big deal

0:13 but it can be serious if I don’t look after it properly

0:17 I’m worried you’ll have an asthma attack when we have sex now!

0:19 Don’t worry

0:20 It’s very unlikely

0:21 I feel like my asthma is under control

0:23 But, I’ll keep my reliever inhaler on the bedside table

0:25 Just in case

0:27 Shall we start with me on top?

0:30 Sitting up is an asthma-friendly position

0:33 What should I do if you have an asthma attack when we’re having sex?

0:37 Help me sit up straight

0:39 and get my inhaler

0:41 I should be fine after 10 puffs,

0:43 but if not call 999.

0:46 If I get better,

0:47 we could still carry on afterwards

0:48 if we feel like it

0:50 Great, I can totally do that

0:54 Want to have the awkward condom chat now?

0:56 Should be pretty straightforward in comparison...

Have a laugh!

“When I have to use my inhaler or change positions, partners can sometimes worry it’s their fault. But I try to make light of it and let them know that it doesn’t mean I wasn’t having a good time. It works best when you can laugh about it.

“Asthma is just a normal part of my life and I’m used to managing it myself. It’s meant that I tend to not tell new partners about it – the first they hear of it, it’s from my wheezing. They’re usually quite shocked but have always been supportive.

"If they see the inhaler in the sex box and ask what it’s for, I’ll tell them that sometimes I can struggle with asthma symptoms but that I should be ok if I take my reliever inhaler. They’re often more worried about it than I am, but I try to reassure them.

"As long as we know where my inhaler is and what to do if it doesn’t settle my symptoms, we’re good. Oh, and tea and cuddles once I’ve calmed down is always a good shout, too.”

Talking about my asthma

“Being open about your asthma is really important. It makes it so much better when you’ve got another person to go through the rough patches with. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, it’s part of who you are.

“I’m lucky that I manage my asthma well, but I still need to be better at communicating when my symptoms flare up. It’s a very British thing to not want to cause a fuss, but partners wake me up all the time with their snoring, so why shouldn’t I wake them up with my own breathing difficulties?!”

  • Take a look at our advice on sex and relationships
  • Call our Helpline on 0300 222 5800 (Mon-Fri; 9am - 5pm) to speak to one of our friendly asthma nurses for confidential advice on coping with symptoms
  • Find out more on getting emotional support to help you cope with your asthma


Updated February 2018