Ok so the title may sound like I’m going to start confessing I have an addiction to sex but wait, don’t go just yet! A blog post about chronic illness and sex is part of ‘Chronic Babe’s‘ blog carnival starting on 31st May so thought I’d join in. Who better to write about sex and chronic illness than oiling point someone who’s a qualified sex therapist and is chronically ill?!
Firstly, yes people who are chronically ill do have sex, even if the ‘normalies’ think people ‘like us’ shouldn’t. Why shouldn’t we? Ok most of the time we feel like crap, have trouble even looking after ourselves but consider sex as a part of therapy for your illness, because it actually can bring pleasure, stress relief and even pain relief! It will also go towards improving how you see yourself, still a sexy, beautiful member of society. So throw off all the ignorance (including Dr’s, one of my own previous Dr’s asked me how on earth could I still have sex. I told her you don’t have to go at it hammer and tongs you know!) and get stuck in to improving your sex life today.
As most of us with chronic illness take a cocktail of meds, vitamins and supplements everyday it is much more likely for us for at least one of those to affect our sexual functioning in some way, usually lowering sex drive. So it’s always worth a go checking with your Dr or a pharmacist to see if this is a side-effect of anything you’re taking and if it is perhaps see if you can try a different med. It is also well known that conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and numerous other things can have an effect so go easy on yourself and please do see a sex and relationship therapist which can help you more than I can here on this blog.
Now, with all the pain and fatigue most of us spoonies suffer with everyday it can feel like a huge hurdle to try and get intimate. Instead of being spontaneous all the time we have to plan. Choose a time when your painkillers have kicked in, heat packs have been applied to ease sore or stiff joints and muscles and change things around a bit so if you’re at your best in the morning for example try to have sex at those times. Or even early evening so you’re not totally zonked when it comes to bedtime! Even women who aren’t ill can have a lowered sex drive and it becomes less and less a feature in their relationship causing problems outside the bedroom dept but actually it’s normal for women to not feel like sex until they actually get started, so get stuck in and do it anyway!
Planning to have sex I’m sure a lot of people think, ‘but that takes the fun out of it’. Actually spending a day or two planning and sorting out your needs before you can have sex actually gives you time to think about being intimate, the things you’d like to try, imagining the sensations you will feel, it can actually prove to be a turn-on!
There are plenty of aids you can get to help, things such as foam wedges to get you into a more comfortable position, even a swing you can attach to the ceiling! Don’t forget experimenting with toys (and there are plenty out there!) can be fun and also useful when you have a chronic condition.
Don’t forget that sex does not equal intercourse. Sex includes being close and intimate through massage, touching, kissing, oral sex etc Enjoy the process and not see it as a means to an end goal – intercourse and orgasm.
Orgasm produces endorphins throughout the body which is your body’s natural painkiller. Sex can also help you sleep well, so relax and enjoy!