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19th Oct 2012

Ask The GloHealth Doctor – Your Health Questions Answered

Have you got a health concern on your mind? Every week we'll be tackling the health concerns of readers with the help of our GloHealth Doctor, Doctor Conor Fitzgerald.

Have you got a health concern you’d like some advice on? We’ve got our GloHealth Doctor, Dr. Conor Fitzgerald, on hand every week to answer your questions.* This week he’s talking about exercise after birth and erectile dysfunction…

“Hi Doctor, I’m due to have my first baby next month. I’m really excited, but I’m a very fit and active person normally and now I feel like a whale! My exercise regime normally is quite intense, and I’m just wondering about how much I can do soon after the birth – and what’s safe?”

Congratulations on you imminent arrival, it is a wonderfully exciting time. It is great to hear that you are a fit and healthy person, as this is best for your developing baby, it will be a definite advantage during the birth, and should mean your energy levels are higher.

Subjectively you might feel as though you have put on a lot of weight, but have your doctor compare your weight at the start of your pregnancy and your weight now, you may be pleasantly surprised. You didn’t mention whether you were exercising during the pregnancy – exercise during pregnancy is permitted, even encouraged, but you should not try to increase your exercise tolerance during pregnancy, rather keep your heart rate below 120 beats per minute. 

How soon you can return to exercise after the baby’s birth will depend on how baby is delivered…

For example if you have a Cesarean section you would likely have to wait 6-8 weeks for your wound to heal and if you have a normal delivery you can return to exercise as soon as you have the energy to, but remember to build up your tolerance gradually and start with light exercise such as walking. An example would be after your first week post delivery to try three 30 minute walks. Best of luck!

“Dear Doctor, I’m far too embarrassed to ask my own GP about this as he is a family friend, but lately my partner has not been able to ‘perform’ when we are in bed together. I don’t think there’s anything else wrong with him, and he seems in good form – but this problem is going on for a few weeks now and it’s becoming really frustrating for us both – have you got any suggestions for us? Thank you”

Having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. But if erectile dysfunction is an ongoing problem, it may cause stress, cause relationship problems or affect your partner’s self-confidence.

Even though it may seem awkward to talk with your doctor about erectile dysfunction, your partner should go in for check up. Problems getting or keeping an erection can be a sign of a health condition that needs treatment, such as heart disease or poorly controlled diabetes.

Your doctor will need a detailed history from your partner and may ask questions such as:

What other health conditions he has (including mental health conditions)

Medications he is on

Whether there is a history of sexual problems or change in sexual desire

Whether or not he has morning erections

Whether it is a constant or occasional problem over the past number of weeks.

Other important questions will relate to feelings of anxiety, depression or increased stress. Also history of alcohol and drug use is important.

Your doctor may need to perform an examination and some blood tests to ascertain whether it is physical or psychological issue, and treatment will be based on the cause. I understand it can be embarrassing to discuss this issue with your GP, but he is well trained to deal with erectile dysfunction and I can assure you it will probably not be the only case of erectile dysfunction he treats in that week.

If you’ve got a question you want to put to our GloHealth Doctor, just drop us a mail to [email protected] – all emails will be treated in the strictest confidence.

*If you have ongoing concerns about your symptoms, please contact your GP

Dr. Conor Fitzgerald, GloHealth Medical Council


Dr. Conor Fitzgerald studied medicine at UCD, worked in Naas General Hospital and also in the Adelaide & Meath hospital, incorporating the National Childrens’ Hospital, (AMNCH) Tallaght. He trained on the Mid Leinster GP Training Scheme and worked as a GP in Wicklow. Dr. Fitzgerald is currently working in GP practice in Lucan, Co.Dublin.