We have been receiving inquiries as to whether it is safe to have sex just after the vaccination. This is likely due to the recent advisory to avoid strenuous exercise after mRNA COVID vaccination. In short, YES. Here, we take a look into why people may be concerned about this and how you can continue to find pleasure after getting immunized.
COVID vaccine and a case of 16 year-old with cardiac arrest
A 16-year-old boy in Singapore went into cardiac arrest six days after his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine.
The heart attack happened during weight lifting in a gym. It was reported that he was lifting twice his own weight.
Alongside that, he had been taking some supplements. Whether or not this is related has not been announced.
What he suffered is a condition called Myocarditis. A rare side effect of the mRNA vaccines whereby there is inflammation of the heart muscles.
The experts have suggested that the vaccine may be one of the possibilities that first caused myocarditis and then cardiac arrest precipitated by the strenuous exercise.
Since April 2021, the CDC has reported more than 1000 cases of inflammation of the heart after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech). However, these cases are said to be rare out of hundred of millions of vaccinations.
Characteristics of confirmed cases of heart inflammation are:
- Mostly are male adolescents and young adult 16 years or older
- More often occurred after second dose of mRNA vaccines
- Myocarditis occurred after several days of vaccination
- Mild symptoms can be treated
- People can return to normal activities when symptoms improve
Avoid strenuous exercise after COVID vaccination
No strenuous exercise for one week after getting either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccination.
This was the advisory given by the Singapore expert committee, after they had analyzed the local and overseas data of vaccine safety profile.
Activities included swimming, cycling, running and lifting of heavy weights. But this list is not exhaustive.
Therein lies the confusion as to whether sex falls within this category of “intense activity”.
Advisory by the Singapore Ministory of Health to avoid strenuous activity after vaccination (Credits: The Straits Time)
What defines strenuous physical activity?
The CDC provided an objected measure as to what intense an exercise should be to be considered “vigorous exercise”
The target heart rate during strenuous activity usually reaches between 77% and 93% of the maximum heart rate.
In the case of an average 40 years old healthy man, whose maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute (BPM):
Lower limit: 77% of 180 = 138 BPM
Upper limit: 93% of 180 = 167 BPM
Examples of strenuous or vigorous physical activities include swimming, playing soccer, heavy weight lifting, and fast running.
But these may vary between individuals, as exercise tolerance depends largely on an individual’s fitness level.
How do I estimate my exercise tolerance?
If you are an athlete, you may think that running a 10km marathon is no sweat at all. For others, climbing two flights of stairs might already be a challenge.
As a rule-of-thumb, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath during strenuous exercise.
Another way to estimate physical intensity is through the Borg rating of perceived exertion.
The modified Borg rating measures how tired an individual feels during exercise. It is from a scale of 0 to 10, ranging from no effort at all, to feeling very tired.
If you feel that your perceived exertion is 7 to 10, then you are exercising at a level of “strenuous activity”.
Self-rating to estimate your level of exertion (Credit photo: Trek Education)
The answer – Sex is not a strenuous activity, mostly
As the saying goes, “sex burns calories”. This is actually true, in that the average men burns about 101 calories during a normal session of sex.
But the average sexual activity is actually classified as mild to moderate exercise.
A men’s heart rate rarely gets above 130 beats per minute during sexual intercourse, and systolic blood pressure does not exceed 170.5
But don’t take this as medical advice and start going wild! Remember that exercise tolerance varies from person to person, and you are the best person to gauge yourself.
So if you have done your part for the community and done your vaccination, don’t worry if you are going to get lucky tonight – Just remember to pace yourself.
Sex is mild-moderate exercise, similar to taking a light jog!
Getting lucky tonight? You can still take erectile dysfunction medications
Erectile dysfunction (ED) medications like Viagra or Cialis are not contraindicated with COVID vaccinations.
Till date, there are no reports of drug interactions between the two.
As much as it is safe to take ED pills, bear in mind what we have mentioned about pacing yourself during sexual activity just after COVID vaccination.
You can always wait till your body is well rested before continuing.
If you still have doubts if you should be physically intimate after your vaccination, speak to your doctor.
Sire is a digital men’s health clinic based in Singapore. We specialize in direct-to-home teleconsultation and medication delivery for sensitive conditions like sexual health and erectile dysfunction.