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Everyone should be able to enjoy sex and pleasure, and this includes those of us living with a chronic illness. Has your condition ever made you feel insecure, unattractive or restricted? Is chronic pain affecting your sex life and you’re unsure know how to address the problem? Let’s open up the conversation and help break the stigma surrounding sex and disability.


Chronic pain and sexuality


Sex is important. As well as enabling us to procreate, it’s fun and provides a boost to our overall wellbeing. Some of us want to have sex more than others, and that’s okay – we’re all different. Whether you’re enjoying it alone or with a partner, sex has the power to make you feel good, and with that comes a plethora of physical and emotional benefits.


For some, chronic pain is a major obstacle to intimacy. Not only can the physical pain you’re experiencing interfere with your sexuality, but other factors like decreased libidostress and certain medications may also come into play.


If chronic pain is hindering your ability to have the sex life you would like or makes you lack confidence, you may find that you feel upset, frustrated or anxious. These emotions are completely natural, and with the right approach and support, you can overcome them and experience safe, satisfying sex once more.


How can you improve sexual intimacy while living with chronic pain?


What’s the key to a healthy and active sex life with chronic pain? Well, there certainly isn’t just one answer. It will entirely depend on you (your thoughts, feelings and desires), your relationship or sexual partners and your condition. However, here are a few things to consider:


Communicate with your partner


Openly discussing your needs, feelings and concerns is the first step to taking control of your condition and the limitations it may present. Be honest and work together. You deserve a partner who is understanding and respectful – someone who will stop if sex becomes painful and is willing to experiment and modify to make it enjoyable for both of you.


Stay relaxed


Sex is good for your mental health and good mental health makes for better sex. If the idea of having sex makes you feel stressed or anxious, try to relax and avoid putting pressure on yourself. Wind down and do something engaging with your partner like going out on a date or explore relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, visualisation, yoga and massage.


Access support 


While there remains a heavy taboo around sex and disability, the information and support available is ever-expanding. If you want your sex and disability questions answered, it’s worth talking to your healthcare provider, who will be able to offer advice and point you in the right direction for extra support.


You might also benefit from reading a related blog or book, listening to a podcast or watching a film or documentary. Some good examples include:






Adapt your sex life to your condition


If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness, you’ll likely need to make changes to various aspects of your lifestyle. This includes sex. Although your relationship with sex may change you can adjust and adapt. Find what is most comfortable and pleasurable and get creative in the bedroom (or wherever you choose to do it!).


This could include:



We’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences relating to sex and chronic pain. Don’t be shy – we’ve created a safe place! You can get in touch via our community page Together For Better Days, where you’ll find a wide range of support, advice and resources spanning a variety of topics.


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