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Sex and Your Heart Rate

Your body’s response to sex is likely somewhat individual, and you are probably aware of some of the early signs of feeling aroused: nipple sensitivity, a bit of vulvar and vaginal ‘tingling,’ among other signs.

For most as sexual activity progresses there’s a faster heart rate, blood pressure responds, your breath quickens.

For most of us, it’s about as ‘vigorous’ as a brisk run down the block or a rousing round of housework, or maybe for you healthy twenty somethings: a few blocks.

Physiologic studies have been done of what the exact cardiovascular response to exercise is so that we can recommend what those with health issues, such as a recent heart condition, can be told to be aware of.

Sexual cardiovascular studies show that with sex, for males and females, the peak heart rates rise to about 140 to 180 beats per minute, which is more like modes work outs.

With sex, blood pressures rise as well, the systolic number may increase by about 80 points, and the diastolic blood pressure reading increases by about 50 points.

For many who have had cardiovascular conditions the respiratory rates and how much air is pushed through the lungs increases more significantly, nearer to what would be seen with moderately severe physical exertion.

The physiologic effects of sex wear off quickly, in about two hours. But two hours with an elevated heart rate in someone who has physiologic compromise (high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or metabolically not heathy) is a relatively long time. So that if you have sex, it was shown there is a 2.5 times increased risk of heart attack in heart patients, that risk persists for the first couple of hours after sex.

So don’t just chalk funny chest sensations to fond feelings, pay attention to unusual pains, it may be important.


Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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