One third of stroke survivors say they are “too scared” to have sex, new research has found.
According to figures released by the Stroke Association, more than half (57 per cent) of people who have survived strokes have experienced changes to their sex lives with one reason being that people are afraid that having sex could bring on another attack.
The charity’s survey of more than 1,000 stroke survivors also found that more than one fifth believe their partner no longer wants to have sex, while one third said having sex would be difficult.
And roughly one in six of those surveyed say they don’t have sex at all anymore.
Roughly 100,000 strokes occur in the UK every year, with one in four happening to people under the age of 64.
The Stroke Association states that strokes can cause physical or emotional changes that affect people’s sex lives in addition to their relationships.
“It’s not unusual to feel low or depressed after a stroke, and this can make you feel as if you have lost interest in sex,” the charity adds.
Additionally, muscle weakness or spasticity (muscle stiffness) may cause physical issues and can “restrict how you move and how you can position yourself during sex”.
Bridget Bergin, executive director of stroke support at the Stroke Association, said: “When someone has a stroke their life changes in an instant and it’s very common for it to affect your relationships, including your sex life.
"It’s not unusual to feel low or depressed after a stroke, and this can make you feel as if you have lost interest in sex.
“The emotional problems are often compounded by the physical disabilities caused by the stroke. Relationships change with many stroke survivors saying that the person who was once their partner has now become their carer.”
But Bergin adds that with the right support and therapies, stroke survivors can overcome their anxieties about sex.
“As a stroke survivor, it’s ok to have sex, unless your doctor tells you otherwise,” she said.
“Sex, like other forms of physical activity, can raise your blood pressure. However, this is unlikely to be a problem except in rare cases.
“If you are concerned, check with your doctor. The Stroke Association can also offer confidential advice to people who call our Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100 or visit our website www.stroke.org.uk.”