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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Can Intimacy & Chronic Pain Coexist?

YES!! Like many things with chronic pain, it may not be as easy as we’d like, but it certainly can coexist. Recently Arthritis Today had an article by Anne Krueger entitled, Rekindle your Love Life. The article states that, “dozens of studies reveal that a healthy love life reduces stress, releases fell-good endorphins and helps keep us young. There’s even research that shows that a simple touch from a love one can help reduce pain.” That all sounds wonderful, right? The article inspired me to get the courage to broach this private subject here.

It can be hard to even want to be intimate when feeling fatigued and in pain. For some people this creates a horrible feeling of sadness or even guilt. One of the most important things to be able to do is talk openly to your partner about how you’re feeling. Maybe you’re feeling guilty about something (ex: not having sex more frequently) that doesn’t even matter THAT much to your partner. If you can overcome the feelings or guilt, it will be beneficial to both parties. Consider seeing a family or sex therapist to talk through your emotions and physical obstacles. This can help you and your partner come up with new ideas to try to have more intimacy. You may be surprised to know that many health insurance policies provide coverage for this type of therapy.

Timing can play an important role in how successful trying to be intimate can be. Are there times during the day when you feel less fatigued and in less pain? For some people this is just after a soak in an evening bath. Consider tracking what times of the day you feel the most sexual desire too. Remember that medications, and when you take them, may impact your sex drive. Once you know when you seem to feel better, considering setting dates with your partner at those times. Besides setting yourself up to feel better during the date, you can mentally work up your desire while you are anticipating your date. Another tip would be to try and take it easy the day of your date.

Keep an open mind when it comes to intimacy. This can mean many things. Think about your pre-game – could stretching or doing yoga regularly help your flexibility and thus your pain? Have you tried various sexual positions to find ones that are more comfortable? A Karma Sutra book can give you ideas to try and don’t forget about using extra pillows. Rethink what intimacy means to you and your partner. If sexual intercourse is too painful there are other ways to be intimate – laying naked together in bed, kissing, massaging each other, holding hands, talking together while having tea, listening to music in candle-light, etc… In her article, Krueger suggests reading The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability by Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette. You can preview parts of the book at the link I provided.

What other tips do you have for sustaining intimacy while living with chronic pain?

This post was included in Chronic Babe Blog Carnival #30.

"Rekindle your Love Life" article

"Rekindle your Love Life" in Arthritis Today

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