Embracing Sexual Health Awareness: Chronic Pain & Intimacy

In Pain, Pelvic Health, Pelvic Pain, Vaginismus by Emily TranLeave a Comment

By Emily Tran, PHRC Westlake Village


September marks Sexual Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of sexual health and well-being. One often overlooked aspect of sexual health is the impact of chronic pain on intimacy. Millions of people worldwide suffer from chronic pain, and it can significantly affect their relationships and sex lives. In this blog post, we will explore the challenges of chronic pain in relation to sexual health and offer strategies for managing pain and maintaining intimacy.


Understanding Chronic Pain and Its Impact on Sexual Health 

Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for more than three months and can be caused by a variety of factors, such as injury, illness, or an underlying medical condition. Common types of chronic pain include back pain, arthritis, migraines, and fibromyalgia.

The presence of chronic pain can have a profound impact on an individual’s sexual health. Pain can make it difficult to engage in sexual activities, leading to decreased desire, arousal difficulties, and even relationship strain. Moreover, the emotional toll of living with chronic pain, including feelings of frustration, depression, and anxiety, can further exacerbate sexual health challenges.

Strategies for Managing Chronic Pain and Maintaining Intimacy 

If you or your partner struggle with chronic pain, there are several approaches you can take to manage pain and maintain a healthy intimate relationship:

  1. Open communication: Discuss your pain and its impact on your sex life openly and honestly with your partner. Share your concerns, limitations, and desires to foster understanding and empathy. 
  2. Professional guidance: Consult with healthcare professionals, such as doctors, physical therapists, or sex therapists, to develop a comprehensive strategy for managing pain and addressing sexual health concerns. 
  3. Pain management techniques: Incorporate pain management practices like meditation, deep breathing, or mindfulness to help reduce pain and stress. Medications, physical therapy, or alternative treatments like acupuncture may also help alleviate pain. 
  4. Adapt and be creative: Explore new ways to express intimacy and pleasure that accommodate your pain levels. This may include experimenting with different positions, incorporating sexual aids or toys, or focusing on non-penetrative forms of intimacy like cuddling or massage. 
  5. Prioritize self-care: Chronic pain can be physically and emotionally draining. Make sure to prioritize self-care by getting adequate sleep, eating well, staying active, and seeking emotional support when needed.

Sexual Health Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity to address the challenges faced by individuals living with chronic pain and their partners. By understanding the impact of chronic pain on sexual health and implementing strategies to manage pain and maintain intimacy, couples can continue to enjoy fulfilling and satisfying relationships. Remember, open communication, professional guidance, and a willingness to adapt are key components in navigating the complexities of chronic pain and sexual health.



We are excited to announce Molly will be helping PHRC open their 11th location in Columbus, OH in September of 2023. Join the waitlist and be the first to be contacted!

Are you unable to come see us in person in the Bay Area, Southern California or New England?  We offer virtual physical therapy appointments too!

Virtual sessions are available with PHRC pelvic floor physical therapists via our video platform, Zoom, or via phone. For more information and to schedule, please visit our digital healthcare page.

Melissa Patrick is a certified yoga instructor and meditation teacher and is also available virtually to help, for more information please visit our therapeutic yoga page

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