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Sex and chronic pain

Lmr106LLmr106 Posts: 119
edited 03/09/2014 - 10:46 AM in Matters of the Heart
How are other members handling your sex life along with the pain? I have talked to my husband about it, and we try positions that put less pressure on painful areas. However, each interaction is painful, and I have little to no desire, likely due to some of the meds I'm on. I love my husband very much, -and I do like being close to him in this way. How do others make this work?
2000- spinal fusion, complete spine due to scoliosis
2012- pain began, started treatment for chronic pain
2013- install of pain pump, procedures to address complications
2014-blood patch, spinal fluid leak


  • and choose your moments wisely. Positioning and pillows help . Cuddling can often by just as intimate as the act of sexual intercourse , but the biggest challenge is learning what positions are most comfortable and as far as the lack of arousal goes, that may be a side effect of the medications, especially if you are taking any anti depressants, since they notoriously cause lack of drive as one of the major side effects.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,045
    Many times those two do not exist. That could be for many reasons, being uncomfortable, the pain, the lack of sexual drive , etc

    But, being intimate also means being next to your partner, holding hands, and as Sandi says cuddling
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Sex is an act of or expression of love, but intimacy comes from sharing thoughts and feelings, and laying in each others arms, and discussing dreams and goals.....I find the second as fulfilling as the physical act itself, in fact, I feel closer to my spouse during those non physical moments at most times, because of the emotional connection being the focus rather than the physical.
  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 03/10/2014 - 2:37 PM
    My husband is not a big romantic. In his heart yes, but outside no. Our intimacy and romance usually comes In the bedroom. This has always been a big part of our love life. If we don't have sex, we become more irritable and snarky. It is difficult because he knows when I am in pain and he is afraid of making it worse. Sandi was right about pillows, they can be very helpful, as well as choosing the right positions. You also have to learn your limits and sometimes just fake it for your partner's sake. And remember that sex does not always have to be intercourse. Lastly jump on it if you are have a low pain day. Even if it cause you pain to I crease later, it is worth it to get that sense of normalcy.
  • My pain has skyrocketed over the past two years. It has really put a strain on my marriage of 12 years. The pain has changed me in negative ways not to mention the financial stress cuz he's the only one working. Any advice or suggestions on how to navigate this so I don't lose my marriage I would appreciate.
    W. Logan
  • I do agree that intimacy is important to do that as often as we can, but I do believe that sex is a natural part of life and he misses it. He does not say things to make me feel guilty but I do feel guilty when I stophim, and say that I'm not up for sex right now because of the pain. He is naturally disappointed, and I feel guilty because I'm not making him happy. He does so much for me including being the only one having an income, keeping up with the housework, etc I want to make him happy too. When you love someone you want to see them happy, and sex is a natural part of relationships that people expect.
    I understand your concern about saving your marriage. Is it possible for you and your husband to talk about the issues that are going on? I don't know if possible marriage counseling is available, maybe you could check. I know a lot of times we are limited by money due to all of the other medical bills that come in and counseling is put on the back burner.
    2000- spinal fusion, complete spine due to scoliosis
    2012- pain began, started treatment for chronic pain
    2013- install of pain pump, procedures to address complications
    2014-blood patch, spinal fluid leak
  • but the emotional connection is just as important and during those times when sexual intercourse is not necessarily happening, keeping that emotional connection and sense of intimacy is just as important as the act of lovemaking itself.....making sure that your partner understands that the no is not a permanent no, but a not right this second no is important and that they understand it is not a rejection of them or your relationship does wonders to keep the closeness and the intimacy levels intact.
    How we view ourselves and our bodies is a huge mental part of the learning process of living with a chronic condition. Our loved ones aren't the ones who tend to view us and our bodies differently, it is us and our minds that often are the ones who inhibit how others view us.
  • Sandi
    Sure would be a beautiful world if everyone thought that way. You are so right about the way two people in love should
    feel towards each other. I met my Hubby only 3 years before I was injured
    and that put and end to our sex life. We were 52 at the time but still very active, healthy and happy. The man I
    met was a kind, caring, thoughtful and hard working person. I made a lot of money and we did just about everything
    we wanted no worries. It changed big time after my accident which all know that. He changed as did I but I
    was surprised at how much all that meant to him. He is a little supportive but no way what I would be to him.
    I was the one who even with the pain fought to keep things the norm for so long, but now sadly I don't.
    When someone acts like you should do the same things you did before and puts very little effort forward to
    support your marriage it is worse to me than the pain. I know it has been hard on him but he lacks the
    character to be married to someone who needs more. I cried so many tears but now all I feel is resentment
    and have stopped doing so many of the things for him. We are at most existing with each other I think
    because of our money situation and our families. I did suggest a marriage consular but he just laughed.
    So for those of you who have a supportive and loving spouse count your blessings every day.
    And sex is not the most important thing like Sandi said its having your best friend at your side.
    Take care of yourselves
  • I am so sorry for your pain. I know that emotion pain that we go through for the grief of our past lives is so much more than our physical pain. I am sorry that your husband can't step up to the plate. I know how blessed I am every time my husband reassures me that he is in it for the long haul and he understands when I get mean because of the pain. I understand his frustration because he can't do anything to fix it. We all need support and if you can't get it at home, you can get it from us.Stay strong.
  • I am one of the lucky guys who has a wonderful wife who understands my limitations. I hope this isn't TMI, but my wife and I have made some accommodation's to intimacy. When we were younger, it was the typical stuff most everyone else does. After my injury, the "standard" hurts my back too much. It's hard to be in the game when you are consumed with pain. Not to mention the surgery effected my ability to perform, so I have to take the little blue pill before we try anything. We have tried different positions to see if that would help. Ultimately though, I do what I can to pleasure her that doesn't involve the "standard" position(s). I'm not so worried about the experience for myself. I know that sounds weird coming from a guy, but I know my limitations! I just want to make her happy and enjoy what we can.

    So, perhaps in a round about way, you all could try some different things that doesn't involve painful positions or the traditional way but does let your husband know your still there and love him.
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 03/16/2014 - 6:07 AM
    My husband is a lot like you and his goal is to take me away from the pain for a little while and we've been married for 13 years so we know what each other likes. When you come from the place of pleasing the other party, it works out much better for everyone.
  • I'm sorry . Have you considered a very frank and honest discussion with your spouse?
    My husband did the whole I want the old you back stuff too, some years ago now, and we wound up having great difficulty, almost to the point of divorce, but after trying one more time to have that conversation, we finally did.......I understood things from his point and he from mine that neither one of us managed to even contemplate.....
    It woke both of us up, and we found that our underlying friendship was still very much intact, and that allowed us to hold on and work through things- together.
    Sometimes, just simply because we are afraid to say what we all know we need to say causes far more pain than saying those things would.......giving voice to our hurt and disappointment, sometimes winds up opening doors to communication that we believed to be long gone.....and that leads to greater intimacy and understanding on both sides.
  • I have tried so so many times to have that conversation but it never went anywhere. He just says why do we have to
    have this again I get tired of it. Some of the ideas regarding sex he
    is not the type to try things or discuss feelings. I am not prefect by any means but I would never treat someone who
    needed me the way he does it has went to far now and I just don't even care anymore. I know that if I could go back
    for his sake too I would never have married him cause he needs a woman who can do everything and he can live
    in his little kingdom. I never saw that in him before we got married. I am bitter and I hate that I just look at how he treats my kids and Grandkids and keep telling myself that is enough and I know if I had never got hurt we would be happy as heck.
    He does not deal well with someone in Chronic pain or any other kind of illness. I still cry but I do it in private and it helps
    to remember the good times.
    Thanks for the advice I appreciate it a lot.
  • It makes me sad that you feel that way. I remember feeling much the same at one point, more like roommates than husband and wife, and sadly I know that my husband felt much the same way at the time.
    That's why having that painful conversation was necessary. I know that we both had at one point or another stopped trying, and when we realized that it was not one or the other, but both of us, we realized that if we wanted things to change, we both had to try.....
    I hope that you will find it in you to try....sometimes, it is easier to write a letter, than it is to have the conversation, at least the start of one, but ultimately, the conversation needs to be had.
  • I agree totally and understand what you are saying. I have tried letters and I do realize that he
    is still here which means he does love me in some ways. He is just not the type for what ever reason
    to try other than the standard or even to talk about it makes him uncomfortable. I have tried
    over and over with never getting anywhere and it is hard to feel lovey towards someone who
    has not stepped up to the plate through this whole thing. He has qualities that are great he is a
    hard worker, does anything for anyone who asks him to, loves my family (second marriage) completely,
    never has cheated on me. So I guess I always think of those things as reasons to go on in this.
    How can you feel that way when your mate has never ran the dishwasher and vacuumed only once
    or twice in his life. I feel grateful cause I know a lot of partners walk out so I do count my blessings in that
    Like I said count your blessings if you have that kind of relationship I think it is critical to helping with pain.
    Take care
  • my issue does not have to do with pain but 2 items, the lack of desire and the inability to do anything. according to my surgeons, my second to last fusion messed with the nerves that are involved with erections. i have taken hormone shots and gels to help with the drive but they made me gain about 20 lbs in 10 days and sometimes it does not help with desire. ED meds do not help either. but we have adjusted after about 7-8 years. my wife does not complain so i think our life has adjusted to the lack of sex. i said i could try to get an implant but she puts the kabash on that idea. i have to sleep on couch due to pain and i can't lie on a bed, too painful. so what do we do? we get on with our lives the best we can and no complaints from her so i guess that is good.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • aaron
    if i was young, i am 66 to be 67 in may, and dating, i would have major issues also. i would think about the implant and ED meds. i have been married going on 28 years so sex is not the big deal it used to be when we were younger. i am not saying i do not miss it, i do, but i am not embarrassed by it. like i said, if i was young and single it would be embarrassing and i would try everything and anything to get things going. like pain the lack of sex has become part of our lives now. the shots worked well but i gained mucho pounds which i did not want to gain. the desire was there but the action did not function. i guess i am stuck between a rock and a hard place, pardon the pun. like i said, i offered to get the implant, but the wife does not want to go in that direction.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • For me, it has probably a year since last having sex but conveniently between the back/leg pain and the depression that was mostly triggered by the pain, my (ex) wife and I split up. Although I had surgery on July 9, 2014 (we separated about two and a half weeks post-surgery) and my pain level now varies between absolutely no pain and maybe 15 or 20% - mostly cramping and muscle tightness, and although my surgeon's recovery instructions indicated that sex was ok two or three weeks post-surgery, I still don't feel strong enough to do it at all (after almost five months) as my back still feels 'wonky' when doing anything other than the prescribed exercises. I have thought about this a lot, usually on my walks. Personally, for me, I am trying to come to grips with long-term celibacy but that is a decision that affects me but nobody else. Right now it seems that no matter how much desire I might have, besides being single and not really having anybody to share with, sex is not important enough to me to risk reherniation.
  • And have a partner for many years. However, due to my illness we became sexually incompatible. Since we have always been in an open relationship, I searched for other guys who would rather cuddle and have some other types of sexual activities that do not involve much of physical strength. Its not easy, but from time to time I can find men who like cuddling. :D
    Scoliosis vertebrae THL
    Sy CC et CB
    Sy THS
    Sy LS chr
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