If you have FM, you may also be having problems with your sex life or relationships (if you have one!). You could be experiencing loss of libido or having difficulty with sexual performance. It’s also possible your libido is healthy, but the pain and stiffness of FM stops you from enjoying sex the way you used to.
It’s not unusual for people with any chronic illness to complain about having problems with their sex life. But a healthy sex life is important for many reasons:
- Not only does sex strengthen an intimate relationship, but sexual intercourse boosts endorphins. Those are the body’s natural opioids that help decrease pain and increase well-being.
- From my point of view (and many single FM sufferers), you are very lucky to have one – so you need to keep it up!
Talking openly with your doctor and following a few practical tips can help you resolve problems associated with FM, pain, and sex. Then you can begin to enjoy this aspect of your life again.
What Causes Loss of Libido With FM?
Some of the medications, such as Paxil and Zoloft, used in our treatment may cause reduced sex drive. If you take an antidepressant and have problems with libido, talk to your doctor. A simple change of medication or a reduction in dose may improve your sex drive and allow you to enjoy your relationships more.
Further, for some of us, having to deal with the uncomfortable symptoms of FM, including the ongoing pain, fatigue, anxiety, and stiffness, is difficult enough without thinking of being physically active with sexual activity. Learning to self-manage these symptoms with medications, exercise, and lifestyle habits may help to boost your sex life.
How Can I Have Sex if I Hurt all Over?
Some FM patients give up romantic aspirations for fear of further injury and pain. Yet being intimate with your partner is still possible. With FM pain and tender points, you need to work with your partner to find the most comfortable position during sexual intercourse. For instance, if you have FM with low back pain, you may find that having your partner on top or lying on his or her side is most comfortable for you. Or, if you’re a woman who has FM and hip pain, you might use a pillow between your knees to stabilize your body during sexual intercourse.
(FYI: In the next issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA, there will be a ‘sealed’ Valentines’ Day section, showing specific positions (don’t worry, they are NOT photos of me!) that may help with different pains)
Just because you have always had sex in a particular way does not mean that’s the only way. You need to be patient, take it slowly, and find the best sexual positions that allow you to be intimate without causing further pain. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to be intimate with your partner. It may be time to bring out that 1970s copy of the Karma Sutra that you have hidden at the back of your bookcase or night table – find the positions that work for you.
Can Soaking in a Warm Bath Before Sex Help?
Moist heat, including soaking in a warm bath, can help ease FM pain and may allow you to enjoy sexual intercourse – or any exercise – without added pain. Heat increases blood flow to the site and decreases stiffness.
When using moist heat, make sure it is not too warm or you can burn your skin. You might soak in a warm bath for at least 15 minutes before sexual intercourse or other physical activity to get the full benefit. You may also soak in a warm bath after sexual intercourse or other physical activity. Other popular types of moist heat include a warm shower (sit on a chair, if needed), warm whirlpool or hot tub, heated swimming pool, and a moist heating pad.
Is Stress Linked to Sexual Problems and FM?
Stress may trigger FM symptoms. Yet managing stress may help control your symptoms and balance your daily life, which can boost your libido. Stress management may include a combination of exercises, relaxation techniques (deep breathing or meditation exercises), a good sleep routine, and proper nutrition.
Exercise (including sex) releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural stress-fighting hormones, so any type of physical exercise is a good stress-control measure. Relaxation therapies such as deep abdominal breathing, visualisation or guided imagery, and meditation are also helpful in managing stress.
What Else May Help my Sex Life With FM?
If you have FM, talk to your doctor and see if medications can boost libido and/or sexual performance. Improving your overall health by treating any other medical problems may also help.
- What Could Be Hurting Your Sex Life (everydayhealth.com)
- Libido Supplements and Vitamins for Sex – Do They Work? (everydayhealth.com)