Defibrillator fear takes the fun out of sex

A study due to be presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific meeting this week suggests high levels of fear and anxiety that ICDs may deliver a shock during sex can lead to sexual dysfunction in both men and women.

If the ICD detects a dangerous arrhythmia it delivers a shock to restore normal rhythm, researchers said in a media statement, adding that some patients describe the feeling as “like a kick in the chest”.

Among 151 participants in a study to explore patient anxiety about the device – average age 37 years – men were asked about sexual satisfaction and their ability to maintain an erection during sex, while women were asked about arousal, satisfaction and pain during sex.

The researchers found men with ICDs had sexual function scores consistent with mild erectile dysfunction, while men without an ICD had scores indicating normal sexual function.

Women tended to have similar function