Fibromyalgically Sexy! (bet you haven’t seen those two words in a sentence together before!)

It’s been a long, exhausting day. It’s only 9pm, but you feel like it’s 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 they want to make love, but all you can do is stare at them in shock.

Do you NOT know how I’m feeling?

Decreased sexual interest is not a common characteristic of FM. Nonetheless, a 2003 Brazilian study, involving women in their 40s and 50s, half of whom had FM and half of whom did not, found that the healthy group was likelier to have had a regular sexual relationship in the last six months than those with FM. The FM group members were less satisfied with their sex life, had more pain during intercourse, experienced more fatigue during sexual intimacy, and were less likely to initiate sexual intimacy than healthy women.

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 for an individual with FM, making it difficult to engage in certain sexual behaviours.

Sex eventually becomes 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?

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 one’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 they 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 boosting well-being. This double-sided sword is that while sex can relieve symptoms of FM, like pain and depression, FM itself results in a decreased libido, fatigue and pain that hinder the individual’s desire and ability to engage in sexual intercourse.

Maintaining your sex life is vital to your health and well-being. In order to have a healthy sex life, why not try some of these pointers:

  1. 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.
  2. Maintain a regiment that helps you to feel good about yourself – not necessarily just grooming. Sometimes you need to treat yourself to feel good. Take yourself off for a hot oil massage or a manicure.
  3. Stay physically active, preferably with your partner, as much as possible, as another way to feel better about yourself, possibly boosting your sex drive.
  4. Manage stress with relaxation techniques like meditation.
  5. Talk to your doctor about how your condition is affecting your sex life, including any medications that may be at play.
  6. Arm yourself with information. Become educated about your condition and how FM impacts your sexuality and sexual expression. This is a must in talking to your partner about everything that’s taking place. Being informed can also help to alleviate your lover’s concerns, helping both of you to stay emotionally connected.
  7. Allow your partner to be more active during sex if possible (Absolutely nothing bad about THAT!)
  8. Plan for sex after luxuriating in a warm bath or using a moist heat application, both of which ease FM pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. Stay physically connected by just cuddling (unless such is not made possible by allondynia, where the brain misinterprets neutral or pleasant stimuli for pain).

Finally? 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!

N.B. This whole post (and the research involved) developed from me wanting to tell you about the new thongs/g-strings now available in my shop. However, as I looked into it more, it became increasingly difficult to ask if you were feeling unapologetically naughty. Hmm – obviously, I did anyway.

Good Pain to You All!

Yippee! I have a day off! Yes, I realise that I’m not working but I’ve been filling my days with Pilates, acupuncture, doctors’ visits, warm water classes, babysitting, etc. So, today is all mine!

I just woke up and spent two hours trying to work out how to get of bed. I couldn’t sit myself up. Damn Joseph Pilates! The muscles deep, deep (under all and any fat) inside my tummy have said ‘No More!’ The pains are right where my appendix scar is (on the right side – and before they did it laproscopically) and the mirror image on my left side.  I need one of those metal thingys that they have above hospital beds for patients to lift themselves up.

When you exercise, your abdominal muscles contract and expand over and over again. Repeating an activity several times causes the tissue fibres in your muscles to tear at the microscopic level. This is how you build muscle and bulk up. But it can also be (slightly?) painful – I can’t cough without feeling excruciating pain tearing at my insides; and I can’t sit upright (I can sit hunched over or I can lean back against the couch).

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong, but not all pain is bad. Many people seek out exercise that gives them the ‘good pain factor’ (WHAT-THE-?) as they like to feel that they have worked themselves hard.  So how are we supposed to distinguish good pain from bad pain?

Good pain feels like a moderate to strong discomfort (sometimes burning as in lactic acid build up sensation) in the muscles you are working and should go away after discontinuing the movement.  Any delayed onset muscle soreness, as a result of the exercises session, should disappear within a day or two after exercise. Ummm, oops, I may have overdone it (again?)

So between attempts at getting out of bed and dozing, I finally worked out that I can bend my legs (no lifting them) and roll onto my side, then I have to unfold my legs and angle them over the side of the bed, and push myself up using my elbows – long process but I’m up!

And now it’s my day off – so I have time (and maybe the energy) to hang out my washing, do another load, pick up the clean clothes that I had thrown on my bed so I would put them away before bed (two nights ago) but, instead just shoved them onto the floor. I want to attempt to put my FM Awareness nail decals on. Oh, yeah, Passover starts tonight so early dinner at my Dad’s; and I have to remember to pick up the flowers for Dad’s partner, Yvonne.

Umm, did anyone say day off?

Happy Easter and Passover to you all!