Let’s talk about sex…By Dr Sue Peacock
Posted by PeteMoore 22/01/2017
First the good news: there is considerable evidence that a satisfying sexual experience in people suffering with chronic pain can result in several hours of pain free time afterwards.
Don’t let pain stop your sex life
Then the not so good news (it’s not as bad as it sounds so bear with me here). Whereas before you had your pain your sex life seemed spontaneous, now it is different. Unromantic as it seems, it is possible to have a great sex life even if you suffer from chronic pain but it might take a bit of planning and a willingness to break old habits. You may be familiar with the idea of planning, as I show in my book Sleeping with Pain, organisation can be a key to taking back control and it’s true in the area of your sex life as well.
It’s all in the timing
It may have been usual for you to get intimate with your partner at bedtime. But in the new world this might not be the best for you. We often experience pain at its worse when we are tired – so late night sex might mean you are choosing the very worst time. Best thing is to track your own pain, you will almost certainly find that the pain worsens and lessens in a regular pattern. So, for example you might be most pain free in the morning, or after lunch. If this is so then see if you can make this your chosen time for sex if you can.
Love and cherish your bed. Make sure it is as comfortable as possible. Some people swear by silk sheets, the ease of movement they allow can be wonderful. Also keep warm, an electric blanket to make the bed cosy might be a good idea.
Remember that good sex starts in the head. Cultivate a positive attitude and build up your self-esteem. Also remember you have nothing to fear. The longer you avoid sex the more difficult it will be to re-start. So just get on with it – don’t worry too much if it isn’t perfect, it can still be fun and satisfying.
Check your medication
If things do not seem to be working out it is worth checking your pain medication. Some common drugs for pain inhibit libido and affect blood flow and hormones. Often by adjusting the dosage or changing the medication this problem can be overcome. So see your GP.
Find out what is right for you
Don’t be afraid to do some research. And get creative. Google ‘sexual positions for (your type of pain)’ there may be ways to be intimate which you haven’t thought of.
There will be times when you feel in too much pain to want to have sex. Talking, cuddling up, laughing together just being with the one you love has a sweetness of its own. So don’t be too goal orientated. It’s not a competition.
Many of the best websites are based around particular sorts of pain, so here are a few which may cover what you need.
- ICN Romance and Intimacy Center - Interstitial Cystitis Information
- Sex, relationships and arthritis
- Guts for Life - Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Back Pain and Sex
- Hip Pain and Sex: Staying Intimate
- Chronic pain can interfere with sexuality
Follow Dr Peacock on Twitter @DrSuePeacock