Recently, I wrote two blogs on chronic pain/illness and relationships - one dealing with chronic pain/illness and long-term, romantic relationships and one on chronic pain/illness and the dating game. They were very well received both here and on my other networking sites, which I am so pleased about. I promised a post on chronic pain/illness and intimacy with your partner, so here we go!
Chronic pain people: Sex allows all of those wonderful chemicals in the body to start flowing, especially your natural pain killers, endorphins. Even if you aren't feeling well, have sex! I am telling you from experience, you will feel so much better afterward if you just push through those first few minutes. Even with the severe pain I am in, I barely feel it when I am being intimate with someone I love and who loves me. That is a miracle!
Know the side effects of your medications and adapt accordingly: Unfortunately, one of the major bummers in chronic illness is the fact that many of the medications we take can lower sex drive. Pain medication is a real upper for pain but downer for intimacy :-( Sometimes, all we can do is try to find a way around it and adapt. More foreplay, bringing things into the bedroom that can help, etc.
COMMUNICATE: It is important to always communicate with your partner, even concerning intimacy. Explain what you are experiencing, how it makes you feel, and discuss ways to work around your limitations. Bring things into the bedroom that will help the experience be more enjoyable for you.
Get your hormones checked: If your sex drive is suffering for a long period of time and you have a chronic illness, get your hormone levels checked. It is very common for hormone levels to decrease with chronic illness because of their use in the body to relieve inflammation, etc. I am on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, and it has changed my life in so many ways. I feel alive again.
Make plans: Sometimes, spontaneity takes a backseat to life's little struggles. Plan a date night where romance and intimacy are on the menu, and don't be afraid to really let go and enjoy yourself.
Learn to accept and love your body, limitations and all: In the media, women are portrayed as nothing but sexual objects that have to look perfect, act perfect, and be perfect. This is not reality because we are not our physical bodies. We are the perfect, divine souls that inhabit them. Learn to love your body as it is in this moment, even if it is not the way you desire it to be. Intimacy will become more enjoyable, and in turn, so will life.