What happens when the touch of your loved one literally brings you pain? Does a partner ignore it or react negatively to it? There are many ways that fibromyalgia affects intimacy. An astounding 80 to 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia are women, causing emotional and physical distress when it comes to sex. One study states that women with fibromyalgia had a lower tendency to initiate sexual intimacy and experienced more pain during sexual intercourse.
Connected to numerous conditions and situations including pregnancy, post-pregnancy, peri- and post-menopause, and cancer treatment, a decreased libido can also be a side effect of fibromyalgia.
One of the components of Fibromyalgia is a heightened sensitivity to pressure and pain. Sometimes, even the sensation of water from a faucet could hurt. Clearly, this hypersensitivity can make sex an extreme challenge. A woman may even feel in the mood and fully willing to engage in sex or intercourse but doing so would generate immense pain.
Losing the connection with your partner
Being tired and in pain is no picnic. The focus on simply managing to get through a day can begin to drive a wedge between partners. A person with fibromyalgia may not even notice it at first but feelings of being defeated combined with the lack of energy to address these feelings can push partners farther apart.
What to do when Fibromyalgia affects intimacy
Plan time together
This method can really apply to anyone in a long-term relationship but is especially poignant when dealing with someone in chronic pain. This means setting aside time to simply be together, regardless of the activity. Since pain can fluctuate and be better one day but worse another, it is important to be flexible with a partner in pain. Likewise, the partner with fibromyalgia can try to limit her activities to keep up her energy and not worsen her pain.
Reframe your concept of “sex”
Sex doesn’t have to mean intercourse. Sometimes, it could simply mean giving pleasure to someone else or receiving pleasure yourself. If the skin is too sensitive to touch or the muscles are in too much pain to handle a massage, “sex” could be simply talking about fantasies together, taking a warm bath together or watching a sexy film. There are also many intimate devices that might provide pleasure in a more acceptable, gentle way.
Recognize the power of talking
This could mean several things. Talking about your pain and what your experiencing is important for a partner to know. Sometimes, a divide in a relationship could occur simply because your partner is afraid to attempt contact because it might hurt you. If they don’t know how you’re feeling, they can’t be sure how to respond. Let them know if you’re feeling sexy but are in too much pain to act it out. Let them know when you’re having a good day and need or want some cuddling. Sometimes, breaking the barrier between knowing and not knowing what the other is thinking can make all the difference. Communication is key.
Sources on how fibromyalgia affects intimacy: