Tips and Advice

For some people with CF, having sex can come with physical discomfort, aggravations and pain. Fortunately, some practical tips and advice can help both men and women with CF fully enjoy their sex lives.

3 min read
  • Although some people with cystic fibrosis may have sex without experiencing any negative issues, others may find that persistent coughing, chest pain, hemoptysis (coughing up blood or blood-stained mucus) or trouble breathing takes away from their ability to fully partake in sexual intercourse.
  • Fortunately, there are some practical tips and advice that both women and men with CF can use to have an enjoyable sex life.

Here are some commonly recommended tips for people with cystic fibrosis:

  • Avoid perfumes or other strong-smelling products that might aggravate your symptoms.
  • Use a short-acting bronchodilator 20 to 30 minutes before having sex.
  • Do airway clearance therapies (ACTs) to dislodge mucus before having sex. If you think that doing this immediately beforehand might “kill the mood,” you can also try incorporating them slightly in advance, such as before bedtime.
  • Encourage your partner to take a more active role when necessary.
  • Support your back with pillows.
  • For women with CF, use a sterile lubricant to help with vaginal irritation.
  • Adopt positions that require less energy and put less pressure on your chest.
“The best thing my CF nurse did, which surprised me at the time, was mention that if I ever wanted to talk positions that made it easier to breathe she could help. It's so much better that SHE brought it up, because I would have felt too awkward to ask and I wouldn't have even realized she would have suggestions on something like that. Not only is it helpful to know positions that make it easier to breathe, but myself and many others have hemoptysis when lying flat on our backs.” — An adult with CF

By following these practical tips, people with CF can achieve greater comfort and help prevent some of the more commonly experienced issues that arise during sex. Sexual intercourse can also mean greater physical exertion, so you may find that talking through issues such as coughing or shortness of breath with your partner beforehand can help eliminate any surprise or misunderstanding.

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Family Planning & Parenting | Fertility and Reproductive Health
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