A great intimate relationship can be fun, romantic and exciting but people who experience chronic pain often miss out on the ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling of being in love.
Sometimes the emotional impacts of chronic pain can be as debilitating as the pain itself. Depression, anxiety and anger often coincide with chronic pain making the thought of intimacy feel like a chore.
People who suffer from fibromyalgia and arthritis live with stiffness, fatigue and limited movement. People who suffer from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) often have a distorted body image of the affected area. Women who experience endometriosis may have disabling pain during or after sex and menstrual periods. Often times, the pain continues in the pelvis and lower pack on an ongoing basis.
A loss of self-esteem
Often times, people who experience debilitating pain are suddenly dependent on other people. When strong, independent people are not able to do things they were once able to do on their own, it can challenge their sense of value and worth.
Medications can affect your libido
For people who live with chronic pain, sexual desire is often decreased and sometimes can even cause physical discomfort. As a result, people dealing with ongoing pain often avoid virtually all contact including holding hands, kissing or cuddling, according to health.com.
Opiate pain medications can also inhibit a person’s sex drive. In addition, some chronic pain victims self-medicate with alcohol or marijuana, both of which have also been shown to lower sexual interest.
It can affect your partner too
An intimate relationship creates a unique and powerful connection between two people. When something disrupts that connection, it can cause turmoil and damage relationships.
When pain limits or eliminates intimate relationships, the result can be a wide range of negative thoughts and emotions for both partners. There can be feelings of rejection, frustration, anger, jealousy and depression. The best approach is to talk directly and honestly with your partner.
“Intimacy begins with honest communication,” explains WebMD.com. “You and your partner should talk about your feelings — what you miss and what you want or need from your relationship.”
Your doctor can help
Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers are released during touch and sex. The closeness you feel during lovemaking can help you feel stronger and better able to cope with your chronic pain and life.
Intimacy and sexual activity does not need to be eliminated because you suffer from chronic pain.
It’s important to find a medical professional specializing in pain management that can help you maintain intimacy in your relationship. The benefits can result in a happier, healthier life for you and everyone around you.
Dr. Alex Bigham is the owner and CEO of Novocur Pain Management Clinics and has over 18 years of health care experience in private practice and Ambulatory Surgical Center settings. Novocur offers advanced treatment options in a concierge type practice without the concierge price tag. Dr. Bigham appears frequently on local TV and radio programs to discuss the latest in Pain Management or related health topics.
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