Intercourse can play a vital role in a relationship. It is a natural, healthy way to deepen your connection with your partner, and experiment with your wants and needs.
However, this can be difficult if you suffer from chronic pain, which might diminish or even eliminate feelings of pleasure during intercourse. Some people describe chronic pain as an aching, burning, shooting, squeezing, stiffness, stinging or throbbing. No matter from where in the body the pain stems, such discomfort can make intercourse a very unpleasant experience.
Chronic pain can affect intercourse either due to the pain itself or because of secondary factors such as medication use or stress. According to the CDC, 20.4% of adults have chronic pain, 7.4% of which have chronic pain that limits their daily routine.
Common Causes of Chronic Pain
According to the Cleveland Clinic, common causes of chronic pain include, but are not limited to:
- Arthritis, or joint pain
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Cancer pain near a tumor
- Headaches, including migraines
- Lasting pain in scar tissue
- Muscle pain all over (such as with fibromyalgia)
- Neurogenic pain, from damage to the nerves or other parts of the nervous system
How Chronic Pain Affects Intercourse
Chronic pain can reduce energy levels and can lead to sexual dysfunction. Other complications of chronic pain that can harm intercourse include depression, anxiety, substance abuse and worsening pain.
While medication can help with chronic pain, some medications cause a decreased libido or decrease in sexual function. They can also affect blood flow and hormones, both of which are important factors in intercourse. The pain can also affect self-esteem; you might not feel attractive or desirable to the partner and wind up feeling anxiety, fear and guilt.
Expressing your feelings to your partner can help them understand your needs and strengthen your relationship. In addition, there are other ways to help rekindle the spark and restore emotional intimacy.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you and your partner start to reconnect physically by exploring each other’s bodies, and learning what feels good for both of you.