Sex, love and…chronic pain?

Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Pain Management, Stress

When you have a chronic pain condition, sex takes on a whole new level of emotion.

Instead of being something you look forward to and enjoy, intimacy with your partner can become a real source of stress, anxiety and frustration. If you’re a chronic pain sufferer like me, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

‘How can I tell him I don’t feel up to it?’

‘Will she be upset if I say I’m worried about flare-ups afterwards?’

‘Will he stop loving me if I say no again?’ 

There’s guilt involved. There’s shame and embarrassment. There’s touch sensitivity to consider. Desirability and vulnerability to work through. And that’s before you’ve even considered the physical limitations of pain in itself.

In the end, thinking about sex and the act itself becomes a vicious cycle of ‘what ifs’ and negative thoughts. If we’re not careful, this can have a really serious impact on our romantic relationships.

But, on the flip side, we also know just how vital these relationships are to us as we battle our way through our chronic pain journeys. So, here are a few ways to get chronic pain to butt out of your sex life…

Tips for Maintaining Intimacy with Chronic Pain 

1. Communicate 

Honestly, I cannot stress this one enough. If you aren’t speaking up and your partner isn’t speaking up, then there’s just a whole lot of silence going on. Communicate with your partner about your concerns regarding sex and your condition and encourage them to do the same. You may find you’re closer to being on the same page than you thought.

2. Get rid of intimacy ideals 

Everyone is having great sex all the time, right? Wrong. Sex is different for every couple and just because your intimate relationship doesn’t resemble stereotypical ideals doesn’t mean it’s any less worthy. Try not to get hung up on what you think your intimate relationship ‘should’ look like and instead focus on what works for you and your partner right now.

3. Redefine intimacy 

Intimacy doesn’t just mean sex, so don’t panic if that really isn’t on the cards for you right now due to your condition. Intimacy is all about connecting on a deeper level with your partner, so take some time to redefine what intimacy means to you and try out different ways to strengthen that connection. And remember, those ways don’t have to be physical if you don’t want them to be.

4. Trust your partner

This is perhaps the most challenging tip of all, but trusting your partner to love and support you through your condition is so important. If you and they feel confident in communicating and being vulnerable with one another, the rest will fall into place.

While chronic pain can feel a bit like the third wheel in your intimate relationship, it doesn’t mean intimacy has to be off the cards altogether.

By redefining intimacy and finding new ways to connect with your partner, you can get back to enjoying every part of your romantic relationship, despite your condition.

If you’re struggling with chronic pain and the impact it’s having on your life, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


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