How to Maintain Intimacy and Sex Despite Chronic Pain 

How to Maintain Intimacy and Sex Despite Chronic Pain 

By:

Dr. Thomas Stock, MBChB (Hon) MSc.


A healthy and satisfying sex life is vital to a romantic relationship as it helps strengthen your connection to your partner. However, being intimate can be challenging if you suffer from chronic pain.  

Chronic pain, also known as persistent pain, can significantly impact various aspects of life, including physical and emotional well-being. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pain represents a significant global issue. Approximately 20% of adults experience pain worldwide, and around 10% receive new diagnoses of chronic pain annually. 

It is essential to address chronic pain effectively to improve overall quality of life and maintain healthy relationships. So, how do you have fulfilling sex despite chronic pain? Here are some tips. 

Open and honest communication 

The first step is to openly and honestly talk with your partner about your chronic pain. Explain how it affects you and your sex life. By talking with your partner about your chronic pain, you can work on finding a solution together. If certain sexual activities trigger your chronic pain, tell your partner about it so your partner knows which actions to avoid. 

Experiment 

To satisfy your partner while in pain, don’t be afraid to experiment. Experimenting with various sexual positions can help you find one that causes minimal pain while providing maximum pleasure. Experimenting can also help you find a position that puts less pressure on the body part where your chronic pain is intense. For example, according to an article published by The Lancet, nearly 10% of the world's population suffers from lower back pain. If you have chronic lower back pain, you can try being on top because it reduces the pressure on your lower back. You can also experiment by taking the lead during sexual intercourse. By being the one controlling the tempo and positions, you can slow down when you feel pain and change positions when you’re feeling uncomfortable. 

Experimentation is not just limited to sexual positions. You can also experiment with props and toys. You can use toys, like dildos and vibrators to enhance the pleasure that you and your partner feel. You can use sex pillows or cushions for that extra support and added comfort during sexual intercourse. Aside from providing support, using toys and props can make your sex life more exciting. 

Embrace sensuality 

Sexual intercourse is not the only way to achieve intimacy. Activities that strengthen the connection between two people can improve emotional connection and intimacy. You can do activities that interest both you and your partner, like hiking, watching movies, or going on vacations. You can use these activities to discover new things about your partner and deepen your appreciation of one another. 

There are also sensual activities that are not too taxing to the body and won’t aggravate chronic pain. Examples are kissing, cuddling, and sensual touches. You can take a massage class to give your partner a sensual massage. There are also intimacy classes to help you be more sensual in a non-sexual way. 

Scheduling 

Scheduling can help engage in intimate activities when your chronic pain levels are manageable. This can ensure that your sex life is still healthy despite chronic pain. It may take time to master scheduling but it will be worth it in the end. Take note of the times when your pain levels are tolerable and plan your sexual activities to coincide with those times. If you notice that your chronic pain acts up after doing a specific activity, avoid that activity before a scheduled intimate moment. 

Professional help 

Health professionals can help you manage chronic pain so it doesn’t affect your sex life. You can consult a physical therapist, pain management specialist, or sex therapist. These health professionals can provide you with personalised guidance on how to manage chronic pain while in a relationship. A health professional can also help you address and overcome emotional and psychological challenges you and your partner might be encountering. 

If you’re suffering from chronic pain and it’s negatively affecting your sexual life, don’t hesitate to book a consultation with the Men’s Health Clinic (MHC). MHC is a top-rated telehealth clinic specialising in different areas of men’s health with a focus on sexual dysfunctions (erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation) and chronic pain. We have a team of general physicians, mental health experts, nutritionists, and more who can you navigate chronic pain and sexual dysfunctions. 

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques 

Stress and tension can aggravate chronic pain. You can reduce stress and tension with the help of mindfulness and relaxation techniques. You can perform breathing exercises or meditate before sexual intercourse. According to a study published in the Sage Journals, slow deep breathing resulted in lower pain scores in participants. This study reinforces the health benefits of breathing exercises for people suffering from chronic pain. Aside from reducing stress, these mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help you achieve a relaxed state to make intimate activities more meaningful and enjoyable. 

Conclusion 

Chronic pain in relationships can affect intimacy and reduce sexual compatibility. But it doesn’t need to. There are numerous ways to be intimate and have sex despite chronic pain. You can schedule intimate moments, use props, or experiment with different sexual positions. You can also explore other forms of intimacy or seek professional help. With the help of the tips mentioned above, you can ensure intimacy and strengthen your relationship with your partner despite chronic pain. 

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