holding hands where one of the hands is pink and cracked in pain

Pain and Sexual Health

Let’s face it: chronic pain is exhausting. Just the thought of sex might make you feel tired. If you feel this way, remember that you aren’t alone! Chronic pain can sap your energy, even to do the things that you once enjoyed.

That being said, sex is good for you, plain and simple. It releases lots of feel-good hormones that can reduce stress levels, increase your immunity, and can even help your pain. Sex with chronic pain is very possible, it just might take a change of perspective and an openness to trying new things.

Intimacy and pleasure can mean many things

Intimacy and pleasure can include much more than sex. First, try talking about your experiences, including your physical limitations, fears, and hopes with your partner. Maintain open communication and try to talk about sex using a collaborative, problem-solving approach. You’re both in this together.

Some people don’t realize that intimacy and pleasure can come from all different types of touch. Kissing, cuddling, hugging, massaging, and holding hands can all be intimate acts. And if penetrative sex is hard, you can still give sexual pleasure using oral sex, sex toys, or props. Pleasure might not even require touch at all - try sharing sexual fantasies with your partner and see where it leads.

Tips for enjoying sex when you have chronic pain

Try to think of your chronic pain as an opportunity to get creative with your sex life rather than an obstacle. Here are some pointers for getting the most out of your sex life and for maintaining intimacy in your relationship:

1. Emphasize touch

People with chronic pain and illness can sometimes withdraw and feel less connected. You might even feel less desirable than you used to. Simple touch can show affection and love, and can help you and your partner reconnect and rekindle your bond.

2. Try to move your body, if you can

Moving your body as much as you can will help you feel better and will help your sense of positivity and outlook. While you may not be able to do all the exercise you’d like, there are benefits to a simple stroll around the block or 10 minutes of light stretching. This might help you feel a little more limber, and might increase your energy levels and mood.

3. Vary your position

Experiment with different positions that are more comfortable or feel easier for you and your partner. Try sitting, standing, using cushions or special furniture designed to support sex for people with physical limitations. For people with lower back pain, lying flat might be uncomfortable. Try sitting in a chair with your partner in your lap. Or, you can stand or kneel on the edge of the bed with cushions under your partner’s pelvis.

4. Create a romantic atmosphere

Lighting candles, playing romantic music, or using scented oils can all help create a sensual mood that enhances your sense of connection and intimacy.

5. Use tools!

Toys, vibrators, and lube can help to increase pleasure can help you enjoy a creative, satisfying sex life. Remember that lubrication can enhance sex for both partners. If you have a trusted sex shop, try going with your partner and asking for advice from the people who work there.

Key takeaways:

  • Feeling exhausted from your chronic pain is completely understandable. Share how you feel with your partner, and be honest about what it might mean for your sex life.
  • When you have chronic pain, your sex might change. Try to think of this as an opportunity for creativity instead of a roadblock getting in your way.
  • Some small changes like trying a different position, trying some new sex toys, or using touch more frequently can open up the possibilities and bring life to your sex once again.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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