For many, chronic pain can seriously limit their ability to have a satisfying sex life. According to the American Pain Foundation, as many as 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, reported WebMD.
And almost 80 percent of them report a significant reduction or loss of sexual functioning.
A healthy sexual relationship can positively affect all aspects of life, wrote the Cleveland Clinic. However, chronic pain can interfere with healthy sexuality.
Here's help to have satisfying sex despite chronic pain. First, talk to your doctor.
Adjusting pain medication may help, said the Mayo Clinic. It may help to adjust the timing of your medication or create a different or stronger pain control plan.
Some medicines diminish sex drive or inhibit sexual function. Tell your doctor about any side effects that seem to be affecting your sexuality. Your doctor may be able to recommend an alternative or adjust your current dosage.
Change positions, wrote WebMD. Try a side-to-side position to alleviate back or neck pressure, or use pillows for support.
NHS Choices suggested that planning ahead may help you achieve a satisfying sex life. People often experience more pain at certain times of day. So it may help to have sex when your muscles are the least painful and your joints not so stiff.
Mayo Clinic recommended that you take pain medication well in advance so its effectiveness will peak when it’s most needed.
It may help to warm the bed in advance with an electric blanket to ease muscle and joint discomfort, said NHS Choices. Consider doing gentle stretches or using polyester or silk sheets to make it easier to move in bed.
Mayo Clinic advised that you be creative. Sexual intercourse is just one way to achieve human intimacy. Touching increases feelings of intimacy, wrote NHS Choices. Try touching, cuddling, massaging and kissing, without making intercourse your goal.
Masturbation is a normal and healthy way to fulfill sexual needs, said the Cleveland Clinic. The Mayo Clinic suggested that one partner may use masturbation during mutual sexual activity if the other partner is unable to be very active.
As an alternative or complement to intercourse, wrote About.com, oral sex can offer a gentle way to heighten your partner's sexual pleasure. Cleveland Clinic said that the mutual use of sex toys or vibrators can add variety and reduce pressure to perform.
About.com wrote that if natural lubrication is problematic, there are many safe and effective over-the-counter lubricants that can help prevent pain associated with vaginal dryness.
Give yourself plenty of time to try new things, cautioned Mayo Clinic. Try to stay relaxed. If you encounter setbacks during sexual activity, try not to become discouraged. Just keep trying.
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"Sex advice for people with chronic pain - Live Well - NHS Choices." NHS Choices - Your health, your choices. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
"Sexuality and chronic pain - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
"Sexuality and Chronic Pain." ClevelandClinic.org. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
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"Why Sex is So Good for You - Prevention.com." Prevention: Healthy Living Tips, Fitness, Recipes, Diet, Beauty. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
Reviewed November 22, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith