Are you one of the many women who has resolved to get healthier in 2017? You selected an inspirational weekly planner, committed your yearly goals to paper, and categorized those goals into topics like health, work, family, and spirituality. Your set of health goals inspired you to join a gym, eat right, exercise, and cut out that fourth cup of coffee before lunch. This new year is all about a healthier you, and you’re ready for a smaller dress size and bigger adventures. Knowing that the American Heart Association (AHA) declares February as Heart Month confirms just how on target you are in your plan for 2017. But one thing the AHA doesn’t include in their health advice for February is the impact that an unhealthy heart can have on your love life. Or maybe your heart is perfectly healthy, and it’s your partner’s heart that needs medical attention. Regardless of which person in the relationship has heart concerns (or whether both hearts need care), adding “getting heart healthy” to your goals for 2017 could help your physical heart as well as your romantic one.
Most readers have heard the line from the Viagra or Cialis commercials that advises, “Before using this product check with your doctor to make sure that your heart is healthy enough for sex.” Do you know your partner well enough to be able to answer this question? If a relationship is new, it may be too early to know this answer. In a long-term relationship, it may have been months or years since the partners enjoyed sex, so the topic of being healthy enough for that type of activity just hasn’t “come up” in a while, if you know what we mean. And while most people assume that “Viagra-type” drugs are primarily for older men, that is hardly the case, with 40% of 40-year-old men in the U.S. having some degree of erectile dysfunction (WebMD data). The average age of Viagra users is the early-to-mid 50s. So, while this may not be a common topic of conversation on date night, it might need to be. Other health markers, such as unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, past history of problems like heart attacks, and/or being overweight can be warning signs of an unhealthy heart.
While this all sounds very cut and dry and “medical,” the reality is that when the intimacy fades away in a relationship, it is important to figure out why, be willing to talk about how its absence impacts your partnership, and seek help if you both agree that you want it back. If you suspect that your partner may be getting some help in this department from an erectile dysfunction medication, should you bring it up (the topic, that is)? If he suffers from signs and symptoms of potential heart disease, maybe you should start a conversation about his overall well-being and getting heart healthy, not just for the sake of your love life, but for his health in general. Don’t be surprised if this is a touchy subject and if he doesn’t come clean right away. The male ego can be very protective of the macho image, including performance in the bedroom. And if you discover the hidden bottle of Viagra by accident, take your time deciding whether to disclose your knowledge of this secret or not, depending on both the physical and emotional health of your relationship.
A heart healthy relationship is built on both physical well-being and emotional well-being. Ignoring one or the other may result in an unhealthy love life. But don’t ignore an erection that lasts more than four hours, according to the makers of Viagra. Get medical attention immediately. And congratulate your partner on his attention to your love life!