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Sex & Chronic Illness

Illness affects all aspects of life – body, mind, social life, finance and sex life as well. While you manage all other aspects, it is sex life that gets neglected and this can create frustration for you and your partner.

Sexual desire and functioning is a combination of psychology, nervous system, hormonal system, cardiovascular system and sensory system. Illness can affect these negatively. Treatment of illness can too interfere in these. Psychotropic, anti hypertension and anti diabetes drugs are well known for their effect on sexual functioning.

How illness can affect sex life?

Though effects on every individual vary, there are some common problems:

  • Emotional disturbance – Long term suffering from chronic illness can affect emotional status and lead to sadness and anxiety. These can affect sex life.
  • Energy lack – There can be a loss of energy. The natural zest can be lacking. This is dampener for good sex.
  • Loss of libido – Chronic illness can reduce libido. There can not be good sex with low libido.
  • Medicine side effects – There are side effects of medicines which can affect libido and sexual functioning.
  • Pain – Pain alone is sufficient to hurt sexual desire and functioning.
  • Complaints of disease – Many symptoms of disease like limitation of mobility, nausea, and cough can easily spoil sex life.
  • Surgery – Surgery can limit sex life due to feeling of limitation or disfigurement.

How to continue with good sex life

  • Communication – Discuss with your partner about your feelings, needs, what is painful and what feels good.
  • Foreplay – Focus on fun. Foreplay itself can make a complete satisfaction.
  • Treatment – Getting correct treatment and easing pain can pave way to great sex life.
  • Simple sex – If trying different sex positions is not happening due to complaints, try simple things like gentle massage, mutual masturbation etc for satisfaction.
  • Best time for sex – Look for the time when the pain or suffering is less and make best use of this time to have good sex.
  • Nutrition – Take care of nutrition as this can help in boosting up energy and reducing the complaints. Avoid sex immediately after meals as energy is diverted in digesting food.
  • Habits – Cut down on alcohol and smoking as they will further affect health and drain energy.
  • Seek help – Seek help of counselor and therapist to improve sex life.

Doctor’s role

Doctor’s role is crucial in:

  • Assurance and removing anxiety
  • Giving correct information
  • Giving correct treatment
  • Teaching specific lifestyle changes
  • Discussing sexual concerns