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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.”


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.”
“Proceed carefully.”
“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.”


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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Edi Mesa
    3 months ago

    At age 26, I want to be performing like an adult female star. But I can’t. Instead I am limited to a very routine-like intimate routine.

    I can see it in my partners eyes that he grows bored of the same positions, so much so that his porn use will randomly increase.

    In 2019, if you aren’t sexy or giving incredible sex, what are you even doing?

    I have these mental arguments with myself,
    why I am fixated in loathing my entire existence, when I am still breathing.

    I’m alive, believe I am relatively healthy, but why does intimacy make me feel so small?

    Ooooh to be young and have horrible lungs.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Edi and, as usual, thank you for your candor in your reply to this very sensitive issue. We appreciate you sharing your intimate feelings with the community. My thought is your partner should consider himself lucky to have you.
    Warmest regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • gpalmarella moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Edi,

    I wanted to echo Leon here to thank you for being so open with the community. I, too, agree that your partner is lucky to have you and am hopeful that he knows this, regardless of any limitations.

    Your transparency is so valued here. it takes a lot to be able to speak openly about intimacy, especially when facing intimate challenges.

    We’re thinking of you!
    Graceann ( Team Member)

  • Stretch22
    3 months ago

    Couples need to be sensitive to each other’s needs and limitations in all areas of their relationship.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Stretch22 and thanks for joining in this conversation. We very much appreciate your input. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

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