Fibromyalgia and its chronic pain can affect sex and intimacy. FM affects everything else, so why shouldn't it cause unique problems with sex and intimacy as well? FM introduces new fears, concerns and anxieties into a relationship and we must understand them and address them.
First, understanding the unique problems FM causes with sex:
1. Pain. The physiological equivalent of a cold shower! We hurt all over and any pressure or weight or squeezing aggravates the pain. Sex is not supposed to hurt.
2. Fatigue. No energy = less sexually active. Mental fatigue = decreased motivation = loss of libido = less sexually active. The person with FM may go to bed several hours before the partner and be asleep by the time the partner gets into bed. It is difficult to have successful sexual intimacy when one person is asleep! Since sleep is so valuable and so short-lived for many with fibro, any deep sleep will be more desired than sex, esp[ecially] at 11:30 pm!
3. Associated conditions. IBS can cause nausea, abdominal pains and more bowel alertness than sexual alertness. Depression can cause additional loss of libido, interest, and motivation. Anxiety can interfere with sexual responses. Poor self esteem can lead to lack of interest or embarrassment.
4. Medicine side effects. SSRIs can decrease libido or cause sexual dysfunctions, including ED [erectile dysfunction] in men. Muscle relaxers, tricyclics, and antiseizure meds can cause extreme sedation. Different meds can cause nausea or GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms and shift the focus from the bedroom to the bathroom.
So with so much "negative stuff" going on with fibro, how do we possibly figure out a way to enjoy sex? We focus on the positives of sex rather than the problems. We reassure ourselves that intimacy is good for you, your relationship, and your fibro. Sex can be therapeutic. Let's count the ways.......
1. It is a physical activity. Isn't physical activity good for fibro?!
2. It increases our body's endorphins.
3. It improves blood flow, removes toxins from cells, and boosts our immune system.
4. It results in stretching and then relaxation of our muscles.
5. It reduces stress.
6. It re-connects us emotionally and intimately.
7. Usually we forget about pain during sexual intimacy!
We should reassure ourselves that we are not hurting ourselves by being intimate; rather we are helping both the fibro and the relationship. Your partner is also dealing with fears and anxieties about hurting you, so you both need to be reassured about the positive aspects of being intimate ...
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