Sex after Stroke
Sex (sexual intercourse) can be a sensitive
subject. The good news is that stroke
survivors and their partners can enjoy a
fulfilling sex life after a stroke. The sooner
you return to your sex life, as long as you’re
medically stable, the better.
Being sad, not being able to have or
maintain an erection (impotence), difficulty
experiencing pleasure, and worrying about
how you look are side effects of some drugs.
Feeling tired can also affect your sex drive.
Will I have another stroke during sex?
Chances are very low. The amount of energy
needed for sex is about the same as the
energy used to walk up one or two flights of
stairs. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure.
How will my partner respond to me? You
may wonder if your partner is turned off by
the changes caused by stroke. Your partner
may worry that sex could cause pain. You’ll
both need time to adjust. Share your
feelings, and talk to a therapist if needed.
What if I have trouble talking? You may
be dealing with aphasia (loss of speech).
You know what you want to say but can’t
make the words come out right, or you may
not understand what someone else is saying.
Touch can be an important if you are having
trouble talking. It shows warmth, caring and
Start with these tips:
Express yourself openly. Sometimes
sharing your thoughts and feelings can ease
Start slowly. At first you may want to try
gentle touch or other ways of being close
instead of sex. Search for what feels good —
and speak up! Your partner can’t read your
Rest up and plan ahead for sex. You’ll
both be at your best when you’re not tired
and when you have planned alone time to
spend together. Rest can also boost sexual
activity. Be sure and allow enough time for
slower physical responses.
Keep track of the drugs you take.
Sleeping pills may make you less alert, so
avoid them if you can. If you take high
blood pressure medicine, plan for sex before
your daily dose, which may help you avoid
impotence caused by some high blood
pressure medicines. Other drugs like
tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants
and antihistamines can lower sex drive or
If you’re a woman, some forms of birth
control may be better than others. (Talk to
your doctor if you want to get pregnant.
You need to learn the effects of pregnancy
on your body and the risks involved.)
Find a comfortable position. A common
effect of stroke is weakness or paralysis
(loss of feeling) on one side of the body.
You may need to change your usual position
for sex. If you’re a man with one-sided
paralysis the missionary position (man on
top) won’t work for you. Instead, your
partner might try being on top, or you might
try a side-lying position.
Take time to experiment. Your sense of
touch may be changed after a stroke. For
example, if you’re paralyzed on one side,
your partner may forget about the affected
area. Remind him or her to approach you
from the non-paralyzed size. Rediscover
what you and your partner enjoy.
Take time for yourself. Careful grooming
and attractive clothes can help you feel your
best. This may take extra effort at first, but
the results are worthwhile. Even small steps
can help you accept your new self, regain
confidence and fight depression
Caregivers take breaks — and don’t feel
guilty about it. You don’t want to end up
feeling like a parent instead of a partner.
Encourage fun whenever you can. Laughter
and playfulness can help you maintain an
Your health care team may have given you this
information as part of your care. If so, please use it
and call if you have any questions. If this information
was not given to you as part of your care, please
check with your doctor. This is not medical advice.
This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of
any medical condition. Because each person’s health
needs are different, you should talk with your doctor
or others on your health care team when using this
information. If you have an emergency, please call
911. Copyright © 8/2017 University of Wisconsin
Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved.
Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7699