I know that some of you cannot even think of having sex without bringing on a flare – Me? I’d put up with a flare at the moment for a little loving!
With Valentine’s Day approaching, imagine this:
It’s 9pm. You’ve just put the kids to bed. It’s been a long, exhausting day. It feels like 4 in the morning and you’re ready to fall over. Suddenly your other half looks at you in that way, smiles and strokes your arm, and you know he/she wants to ‘make lurve.’
So, what’s your reaction?
Decreased sexual interest is not considered a common characteristic of FM. Nonetheless, a 2005 Turkish study demonstrates that female patients with FM have distinct sexual dysfunction compared with healthy controls.
What is Normal Sexual Function?
For women, sex is a complex issue because it involves both physical and emotional reactions. Normal sexual functioning, however, may be divided into specific stages that include:
They are all tied together with feelings of fulfillment, satisfaction and pleasure. For a woman, this is achieved not simply through physical touching. It involves psychological and emotional engagement. It may be difficult at times to remain sexually engaged when your body is in pain or fatigued or you are experiencing low self-esteem.
Types of Sexual Dysfunction in Women with Fibromyalgia
Sexual dysfunction refers to the inability to either engage in or enjoy the sexual act. It occurs for a number of different reasons that include illness, the impact of medications on the body, or emotional distress.
Women with fibromyalgia may suffer from one or more types of sexual dysfunction. The more common types include:
- Decreased sexual desire or drive
- Less arousal but maybe adequate sex drive
- Difficulty in achieving orgasm
- Increased pain with sexual intercourse or vaginal contact
- Failure of the body to co-operate with the desired position or movement
I am not even pretending that I know how to help with the first three types. I feel I can offer some suggestion on the last two.
We already know that FM is more foe than friend. While many of us are too tired for sex, it is the muscle pain that leads to pressure and a squeezing of the pelvic area and lower back that ultimately result in muscle cramping during sexual intercourse. This naturally causes a great deal of discomfort, making it difficult to engage in certain sexual behaviours.
Sex may eventually become something that is no longer pleasurable (I can’t believe I said that!), but a negative experience. One’s natural tendency is to avoid such physically intimate situations, especially given that one is too tired or sore for sex.
So, who can be bothered? (Pick me! Pick me!)
Further, taking a toll on one’s sex life are FM medications that decrease libido and a man’s ability to attain or maintain erection. Anti-depressants can also take a toll on a person’s sexual functioning. A person living with FM may react negatively to bodily changes, like weight changes and the loss of muscle mass.
As lovers feel less connected in the boudoir, their sexual relationship takes a hit (ie: unless you take steps to stay mentally and spiritually connected while attempting to be physically intimate). It’s important to realise that the release of hormones and endorphins, natural opioids, during sex can help to relieve FM symptoms, like pain and depression, and boost well-being. This double-sided sword is that while sex can relieve symptoms of FM, FM itself may result in a decreased libido, and, definitely, fatigue and pain that hinder a person’s desire and ability to engage in sexual intercourse.
Maintaining your sex life is vital to your health and well-being. Consider adopting this plan on Tuesday:
- Plan ahead to make this the night for sexual relations. Practice acceptance. Adapt. Make peace with the fact that you need to deal with this condition, and then allow yourself to reclaim your life in every way. This means ensuring you do not wear yourself out earlier during the day. You need to be well-rested so pace yourself.
- If you have stiffness of your muscles or joints, consider ways to reduce the stiffness. Do some stretching to relax the muscles and make them limber.
- Practice reducing stress. You can do breathing exercises. You can also combine exercise with stress reduction by playing soothing music while you do yoga. For some, a guided meditation or visualization will produce the desired result.
- Take a warm bath or shower. A bath is excellent because it means you can pamper yourself. Play soft, romantic or sensual music and indulge in an sumptuous bubble bath
- Prepare the room so it is relaxing, comfortable and reignites your passion. Clean, fresh, fragrant sheets can help. Pillows you can place to make positions easier are good tools to have handy. Soft lights and even softer music can also be effective in setting the right mood.
- When it comes to the actual sex act, talk to your partner. Consider some positions that do not cause any discomfort but result in pleasure for both of you. Allow your partner to be more active during sex if possible (Absolutely nothing bad about THAT!) Talk it through.
- Experiment with different sexual positions. There are plenty of activities and positions that are ideal for fatigue; and many ways to avoid painful sex. And have fun trying them ALL out! (see the attachment)
- Enjoy each other despite flare ups. Part of this is not being so goal-oriented during a love-making session. Allow things to happen as they can.
- Stay physically connected by just cuddling (unless such is not made possible by allondynia, where the brain misinterprets neutral or pleasant stimuli for pain).
The important thing is to learn what has produced your sexual dysfunction and to make an effort to maintain interest in sex. You can discuss any concerns you have with your doctor and your partner or spouse. Being honest with your intimate partner will help you maintain an active sex life.
Don’t give up. It might feel like you’re never going to want to have sex ever again – but that’s the fibro talking, not you. Lust strikes at the oddest moment, and people can have sex in a myriad of ways. So have fun exploring what works best for you. and you’ll feel IT again.
And when you do, take advantage of it, and enjoy it!
For those grown-ups among us (and those NOT easily offended), please check out these recommended sexual positions that require less physical exertion. This is adult content – By clicking “I Agree” below, you are agreeing to the following:
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