Intimacy is a difficult topic to discuss for many people. The conversation can be even more challenging when you add in a chronic condition like asthma.
It’s hard for me to admit that asthma could impact a romantic relationship, but it’s not uncommon. A 2017 survey of over 500 people with asthma in the U.K. found that more than two-thirds said their condition interferes with their romantic lives.
It can be embarrassing to break out an inhaler during an intimate moment. It might even sound like a bad excuse to avoid intimacy altogether if your partner doesn’t have asthma or understand the condition.
The emotional effects this can have on a person with asthma can go much deeper. You might feel guilty, rejected, shameful, or annoyed that your body doesn’t always cooperate with your heart and mind.
I didn’t want to share my asthma with my partner at first because I was afraid of seeming fragile. I never wanted to feel like a damsel in distress, especially early on in our relationship. I wanted to be seen as strong and independent, and using an inhaler before or after our time together wasn’t what I pictured for my new relationship.
I didn’t mean to keep my asthma a secret. It also wasn’t something I wanted to shout from the mountaintops. It took a few months before I finally began to open up and share more about myself and my condition with my future husband.
So how can we avoid negative feelings and asthma attacks during intimate moments? We need to have the asthma talk with our partners, our doctors, and ourselves.
Talk to your partner
Don’t leave your partner in the dark about your asthma. Remember that this person cares about you, and they want you to be healthy and well above all else.
Even if you think you’ve been playing it cool, your partner is likely aware of your cautiousness or avoidance of intimacy. They’re likely concerned, and it’s up to you to show them how they can help you. For example, they should know if your asthma or allergies can be triggered by scented candles or flowers before they try making any grand romantic gestures. They should also be aware that their pet may aggravate your asthma symptoms.
The bottom line: Relationships are built on trust, and an open dialogue is crucial.
Talk to your doctor
Your treatment plan may need to be adjusted if your asthma is uncontrolled with any form of physical activity or allergen exposure.
Pay attention to how much your lifestyle is impacted by asthma and asthma attacks. Do you avoid intimate moments because you need to use your rescue inhaler?
Just like in your personal relationships, honest and open dialogue with your healthcare team is super important. If your symptoms are flaring with activity, your doctor needs to know! It might be time to adjust your medication or treatment approach.
Check in with yourself
Is intimacy really the trigger for your asthma? Or is it something else? Anxiety? Potential allergy?
Keep a journal of when your asthma is acting up and when you need rescue medication. Try to pinpoint asthma triggers. Your partner can help eliminate triggers, too. This is critical information for your next doctor’s visit.
Remember that you deserve love, intimacy, and respect. You are not your asthma. Having asthma symptoms does not make you less worthy. And you shouldn’t ever feel shame or embarrassment with your partner.
For more information on how to manage asthma, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00554 DECEMBER 2019