I get this question all the time from my clients. I rarely tell my clients with chronic pain and illness to discontinue sexual activity, because I feel the benefits can outweigh the negatives. The sexual intimacy achieved with your partner; the release of stress masturbation can achieve; and the overall endorphin rush sex produces have all the benefit that can help you with continuous pain.
Therefore, I feel it is a personal decision for you and your partner. However, depending on the pain, it is important to seek medical attention for pain prior to resuming sexual activity. When treating chronic pain and illness, there is this idea the individual feels “broken”. For example, I have found this emotional issue come up with my clients who have fibromyalgia and pelvic floor problems. If you think about it, it is a loss of identity because so often people connect their manhood or womanhood with sexual functioning.
So, what are the common strategies to help you feel unbroken. Well, these are common feelings for people with chronic pain and illness. If you feel that your relationship is going to fail because of the sexual dysfunction associated with your pain….well all partnerships are going to have stumbling blocks.
What you are going through is one of the many challenges that can happen in relationships. The reality is…all human beings will experience challenges with their sexual functioning, whether this is a result of aging, other health concerns, or daily life stressors.
This is not to diminish what you are personally dealing with, but a way to help you feel less isolated, hopeless and alone.
When I work with a couple who experiences pain, I focus on what is more painful, and most of the time, it is penetration. So many people think that to have great sex, you must have penetration. There are so many things a couple can do and this does not even have to include penetration!
Sex is not an action or process of carrying out a task, rather it is about fun and being intimate with your partner.
For example, a vibrator on the clitoris, oral sex and mutual masturbation are just some of the exciting activities a couple can engage in to receive sexual pleasure.
I often have couples go to sex shop and pick out something they like and ask them to experiment with it...and they really tend to enjoy this. It opens up the current sex life to a whole new world! There tends to be this pressure that you have to achieve an orgasm…..but when you look at adjusting your life with the pain or illness, you can look at what is possible in the moment as oppose to what is achievable.