When Chronic Pain Affects You Sexually

Having sex when dealing with chronic pain can be satisfying to you and your partner – all that it takes is a little reinvention.

It is common for men and women to have sexual problems as a result of chronic pain. The effects of sexual dysfunction for men and women with chronic pain can have a debilitating effect not only for you but also for your partner.  There are psychological, physiological and pharmacological factors that can lead to changes in your sexuality and sexual relationship. The most common factors include the fear of exacerbating your chronic pain, being fearful of the inability to perform and/or satisfy your partner and being rejected by your partner. Be assured that if you and your partner work together, you can overcome your sexual obstacles and reconnect on many levels.   

The sexual connection between partners is intimate and satisfying and yet the connection between chronic pain and sexuality can be extreme. The fear of exacerbating your chronic pain when having sex may outweigh your sexual desires.  As a result, your libido can disappear completely. But don’t be discouraged. If the thought or acts of actual intercourse are too painful for you and/or your partner, there are other options for couples to satisfy one another. Exploring your partner and being explored by massaging, stroking, kissing, giving and receiving oral sex and cuddling can be intense in a very good way.  Vibrators and other “toys” can add pleasure without physical exertion, preventing any additional pain to you or guilt on your partner.

Self-stimulation gives you the control of how intense the stimulation and touch is while helping to find what gives you the most pleasure, which you can then share with and show your partner how to do.  It is also suggested that different intercourse positions are explored in addition to sexual activity at different points in the day or night and try different mood settings. Candles and soothing music are suggested to keep the environment calming and comforting. Re-learning about yourself sexually when dealing with chronic pain does not have to be embarrassing.  Rather consider it to be exciting to find new ways to bond with your partner on many levels. Keep the focus off of the pain and put the focus on the pleasure. Intimacy is given and received on many levels and in many different ways.

Men and women with chronic pain may also experience fears of not being able to perform sexually or on a sexual level to keep their partner attracted and interested.  As a result, the fear of rejection can be extremely daunting, closing off not only sexual intimacy but also communication. Talk with your partner about how you are feeling in a setting other than the bedroom.  While some men and women find that talking about their sexual relations is awkward or uncomfortable, it is necessary to address it. Keeping your feelings and emotions to yourself because you feel embarrassed will only keep the distance between you. When discussing your sexual relationship, keep it positive and provide support to one another. Blaming one another will only put additional pressure and strain on the relationship causing ongoing resentment, defensive emotions and further shutdown of communication between the two of you.

Plan some time together that does not involve sex. Changes in environment and activities can do wonders for reigniting and reconnecting. Find some new things to do together and don’t be afraid to try and explore new things. Reconnect as partners who are willing to put forth whatever it takes to stay connected. Love and intimacy need to be nurtured in order to grow together on your journey. If you experience some setbacks that does not mean to stop trying and communicating. It’s about continuing to learn about one another on many levels, seeking new adventures and experiencing life, love and intimacy together.  And that, in itself, is worth it.

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