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When I talk to friends with Fibromyalgia, the topic of sex rarely comes up, but when it does it’s always in a negative light.
“He wants it but I just can’t”
Occasionally, I hear from someone who began their marriage with Fibro and sex was never a big issue because it was never a part of the relationship. However, that’s rarely the case. For most of us, we started off somewhat healthy, with at least some level of sexual drive and enjoyment. Most relationships start with lots of sex in the beginning and then slowly decrease as the relationship matures. This is true regardless of health issues. For those of us with Fibromyalgia, however, sometimes the decrease is sudden not gradual. Just as with everything else in our lives we may have gone from 60 to 0 in no time at all.
Fibromyalgia and Sex
Why does Fibromyalgia impact our sex lives so much?
- Pain – The biggest reason that our sex lives are affected by Fibromyalgia is simply pain. Often it hurts even to be touched. This affects not just our sex lives, but our overall intimacy. When you can’t even be touched by the person you love it’s really hard to have any sort of physical intimacy. No huggy, no kissy! It sucks. It’s not like we want this, we want to touch the people we love, we want to hold them and have them hold us. The worst part is that we are in a state where we need that the most, but we can’t have it. Even if we can handle basic touch, our muscles are often so sore that the positions required for sex are difficult and often painful. And, we haven’t even gotten to insertion and what sorts of pain may be going on there.
- Fatigue – Chronic pain is the hallmark of Fibromyalgia, but fatigue comes right along with it. Honestly, most of the time we just don’t feel like doing anything, and sex is the last thing in our minds. “Ok, you go ahead just don’t wake me up.”
- Depression – More often than not after dealing with pain and fatigue for months on end, depression follows. The sad truth about depression is that it may be the most selfish time in a person’s life. All we are thinking about is ourselves and what we are going through. We have nothing left to give to anyone else. That said, for those of us with Fibromyalgia this is the easiest time when it comes to dealing with the impact on our sex lives. We simply aren’t thinking about it. Without depression, we are thinking about it. We are thinking about it and feeling extremely guilty that we aren’t giving our spouses what they need (even if we have no desire for it ourselves), but once depression kicks in, we don’t even care about their needs. We don’t care about anything, including sex.
Honestly, Fibromyalgia and sex go together like oil and water. They don’t play well. Even if we can make it through sex without being in agony, we often end up so worn out by it that we can’t do much when we are done. And, this doesn’t even taken into account the many other co-related issues that often come with Fibromyalgia that impact sex, as well. Things like Endometriosis, Vaginismus, and Vulvadynia.
So, What Can We do About the Impact of Fibromyalgia on Sex?
- Talk to Your Partner – It is so difficult to be vulnerable and honest about what is going on with our bodies. However, being honest and open with your partner about how Fibromyalgia is impacting your desire for sex, or causing you pain during sex can help them understand and let’s them know that you aren’t rejecting them. When we turn down sex with our partner, they often see it as a personal rejection. They turn it inward, thinking that we don’t find them attractive anymore, or some other such thing that isn’t true. We need to be honest with our partners.
- Find Other Ways to Be Intimate – Being vulnerable is a good start towards creating new intimacy, but we all still need physical touch. If you can handle being touched allow them to do so in any way that works for you. Even if all you can do is lay naked beside each other in bed and have a conversation, that’s something. Kiss and hug your partner daily (if you can do so without pain). Honestly, a daily hug and kiss is worth a little pain, given what it can do for your relationship. If you can give your partner sexual release in other ways, try to do so. Intimacy isn’t just about sex.
- Talk to Your Doctor – Be open with your doctor about how your pain and fatigue are impacting your sex life. If you have pain during intercourse, seek a pelvic pain specialist. Your pain might not be “just Fibromyalgia” and there may be other treatment. In some cases, there is physical therapy that may be able to help with pelvic pain related to things like Vaginismus, or other Pelvic Floor issues.
There I said it. It’s out there. I have Fibromyalgia and sex hurts! It sucks. I hate the impact it has on my marriage, but I love my husband.
What ways have you found to combat the impact of Fibromyalgia on sex? I’d love to hear how you tackled this tough issue in your relationship. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.