People living with chronic pain can feel as though their conditions consume their entire lives. Maintaining or reviving intimacy in your relationship may end up on the back burner as you focus on managing pain during everyday tasks. There are many complex reasons why your sex life with chronic pain is challenging, including the fear of pain that you may experience during sex. It is difficult to enjoy intimacy when you associate sex with pain.
So how can you manage your sex life with chronic pain and begin to enjoy your sexual relationship again? Consider the steps below as building blocks towards reclaiming your sex life with chronic pain.
Communicate with your partner
A low sex drive can lead to feelings of embarrassment and guilt. If a lot of time has passed since you’ve been intimate with your partner, it can be hard to bring up the topic. Communicating with your partner about your specific concerns related to your sex life is one of the first steps towards reigniting your fire. Sit down with your partner and explain your concerns about your sexual relationship and that you’d like to rekindle the relationship.
Avoid asserting any kind of blame on yourself or your partner. Stay positive and discuss your concerns openly.
- Avoid saying: “You never want to spend time with me anymore,” or “My sexual dysfunction has destroyed our lives.”
- Try saying: “I really love when we take the time to spend intimate moments together.” This approach will seem less like an already-failing task and more like an exciting new chapter in your life.
Talking with your partner is also a great opportunity to clarify misunderstandings. Your partner may think that you are no longer attracted to her/him rather than understanding that as a chronic pain sufferer you struggle being aroused. Or maybe you thought your partner no longer wants to have sexual intercourse. In reality, she or he may be afraid to cause you more physical pain. Discussing these feelings together can help dissolve fears you have towards each other and pave the way towards improved communication, intimacy and sexual activity.
Create intimacy without sex
Before attempting sexual activity again, try some activities that will make you two feel close again:
- Hold hands while taking a walk together
- Cuddle before you go to sleep or while watching TV
- Kiss each other before you leave for work and when you get home
These simple signs of affection can be easily forgotten when you’ve been together for a long time or when you’re swept up by the bustle of daily life. But these actions can help you to quickly regain a feeling of intimacy.
Next, start planning dates and activities that will help you and your partner bond and get comfortable with each other again:
- Try something you used to do together that you haven’t done in a while
- Enjoy a nice dimly lit meal
- Take a short walk while the sun sets
- Sit and enjoy music you both like
If you are getting along well and would like to take it a step further, you can try activities that could lead to arousal:
- Enjoy a trip to a hot tub together
- Schedule a couples massage
- Create a massage parlor in your bedroom with candles and body oil
Coincidently, these actions can also help reduce your pain!