Community Thoughts: COPD, Intimacy, and Relationships
Chronic conditions, such as COPD can have many different effects, both good and bad, on relationships and intimacy. In some cases, people will feel closer and more connected to loved ones or new partners. On other cases, COPD might get in the middle of this, making it more difficult to form new relationships or to stay positive in existing relationships.
COPD's role in intimacy and relationships
As we heard more and more about this from the community, we were curious to find out what different people go through when it comes to dating, relationships, and intimacy. We asked questions around this topic and we are now sharing the results.
One question was how COPD had changed the way one thinks about sex and intimacy. Some people shared that they have lost interest, are fearful, or are not able to do what they used to. Responses included:
“I fear that no woman wants to be with a person that has COPD.”
“There is none.”
“Don’t want to.”
“Lost quite a bit of interest.”
“I miss it.”
“I feel like I can’t meet anyone. Who would want a sick person?”
“Makes it harder to be intimate, as you do not feel as comfortable.”
“Feel I can’t perform up to my wife’s expectations.”
“I wouldn’t get involved with anyone because I know things will get worse with my condition.”
“Afraid of having sexual relations because of breathing problems.”
“Not the least bit interested. Get short of breath.”
“I don’t think I could get a date when I’m on oxygen all the time.”
“COPD definitely can make things harder due to shortness of breath. Sometimes even an embrace can make me feel like I’m suffocating.”
“I get very nervous about my breathing or coughing.”
“I’m so much more restricted now. I’m afraid I’m no fun anymore. I miss intimacy.”
“Scared that sexual activity will start an exacerbation.”
Do you resonate with any of these responses?
Other shared that sex and intimacy has changed in some ways, but that they are still able to find ways to be intimate with their partner. Responses included:
“Just make sure you are able to breathe right don’t hurry.”
“It has not changed.”
“Changed my definition of intimacy. Wife taught me that you can bring intimacy in our relationship in many different ways.”
“There is more to a marriage than sex! Lots of ways to be intimate! Kindness, and sense of humor go a long way!”
“Have to take things a lot slower.”
“It hasn’t changed at all. As we’ve gotten older, it’s not as often.”
“I have to think about using the inhaler before sex.”
“WE just don’t let it worry us that we can’t do much.”
“Act very cautiously and don’t forget to purse breathing.”
“Like all activities, we must be aware of our body’s signals.”
“Everything has to be thought out, so no off the cuff moves.”
“It has taken some of the spontaneity out of it.”
“It hasn’t changed anything… age has changed the way I think about sex.”
“It made me stronger on how to enjoy my intimacy.”
“It has made me more aware that it is more than just the act. Loving, helping, and being there is so important.”
“It helped us talk more openly and communicate current wishes more clearly.”
Are you still able to be intimate with your partner despite your COPD diagnosis?
Additionally, respondents were asked about what they’ve experienced during sex or intimacy with COPD. A little over half (53%) said that they’ve experienced difficulty keeping their breath. Others reported lack of sexual desire (45%) and stamina issues (40%).
Experiences with relationships vary
We understand that everyone’s experiences are different and COPD affects people in different ways.
What has been your experience when it comes to COPD and intimacy? Tell us in the comments below.
Have you had to change or adapt your hobbies because of COPD?