Sexuality, libido… and chronic pain.

Just a little while ago I spent a week watching Gossip Girl seasons 1-5 on Netflix. I know it isn’t particularly good writing or television, but I watched it nonetheless and it has prompted this post.  In the show there are a lot of sexual exploits, moments of passion manufactured for the show to define relationships. But it makes an important point, sexual intimacy is an important part of a relationship, and one that can be particularly challenging to someone in chronic pain and especially to someone with reproductive aliments. This is one of the areas I have the biggest insecurities and emotional baggage, and maybe the thing I have the most difficulty discussing even though it ways heavily on my mind.

Before I became sexually active I had ample libido. I not only had a desire to be physically intimate with my partner, but I often initiated passionate and spontaneous play with him; I flirted and teased. I was the one who initiated each sexual “step-up” in our relationship. But now I am barely a shadow of that person.

Sex hurts.

In the beginning it was something easy to write off- it hurt but we were both so new at this. Most people who talk about sex say the first couple times may be less-pleasurable or even painful, but after that it’s fun and it feels good; it is something people are not only willing to do but fervently seek out.  That isn’t the case for me. The pain persisted; sometimes it was worse than others.

Initially I still had libido so we could still have some passionate and spontaneous intimate moments, but once I started the Yaz that went away. The wonderful and loving man I have a relationship would looked so pained at the thought of causing me pain, that emotionally I had to detach myself to have intercourse- as much as I desired to be participating. I was, and am, happy to engage in sexual endeavors with my partner so long as he is on the receiving end, but that isn’t quite the same, and I know he wants to be giving as well.

After I first stopped taking the Yaz my libido did not return, and now that I am back on Yaz I suspect it wont. I miss the spontaneity and I miss the passion, and I know that the majority of this part of the relationship falls on me, because it’s my ailment that is creating the difficulties, but it is hard to get that spark back in spite of the hormonal regulation I am imposing on my body and in spite of the knowledge that when things progress I’ll be in more pain than I already am.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a great relationship. I have a partner who is as understanding as he can be, and who does his very best to make things better for me and to make sure I am comfortable with the decisions I am making. I first wrote this post a few weeks ago, and let it sit as a draft because while writing it I realized that instead of sharing these thoughts with the person who matters most, my partner, I was sharing it with you all- my chronic pain friends and the world-wide internet. The first draft was the catalyst I needed to evaluate my feelings and make a change. I closed my computer, took a norco, and went and had sex- and then, then I poured it all out to my partner. And he listened, and held me, and told me it was all okay and he would do whatever it took to make me feel better. I still have a long way to go to feel comfortable with my new libido and my sexuality (or lack-of). I will likely always have to cope with chronic pain during intercourse and I will have to manage with how that makes me feel, both physically and emotionally. But I’ve made a first step. I’ve realized and acknowledged that I have these feelings and I’ve talked them over with the person that matters the most. It is a challenge, but I am working on it.

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