Women’s Sexual Issues After Myocardial Infarction: A Literature Review

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Abstract

Background:

Sexual activity after myocardial infarction (MI) is a concern for patients and often a challenge for health care professionals to address. It is widely recognized that most patients, of both sexes, report sexual problems or concerns after MI. However, there are reported differences between men and women. Women with sexual concerns may seek less help from health care providers and are more inclined to conceal them because of cultural barriers.

Objective:

The aim of the current study is to present a comprehensive review of the literature describing women’s sexual issues after MI.

Method:

A systematic search of the relevant literature was performed within international databases, including PubMed/Medline, Scopus, ScienceDirect, and ProQuest, as well as Google Scholar using relevant keywords. Also, Persian electronic databases such as Magiran, Scientific Information Databases, and Iran Medex were searched from the inception to October 2014. Articles focusing on the sexual issues after MI only in women, as well as articles on both sexes where women’s results could be separated, were included in this review.

Results:

A total of 8 articles were included in the final dataset. The main themes of women’s sexual concerns after MI were “loss or decrease of sexual activity,” “dissatisfaction of sexual relationship,” “doubt about resumption time of sexual activity,” “fear of reinfarction or sudden death during sexual activity after MI,” “knowledge deficit regarding sexual activity after MI,” and “poor performance of health care providers in sexual counseling.”

Discussion:

The results of this review demonstrate that women’s post-MI sexual activity is affected by many concerns. The concerns may be a knowledge deficit related to not receiving necessary consultation on this topic. Nurses, as first-line care givers, can provide appropriate consultation and education for patients post-MI. As a result, breaking taboo imposed by cultural barriers, personal assumptions, or lack of confidence on giving sexual consultation may ultimately help patients to improve their quality of life.

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