Maintaining a Sex Life With Pain

Q. I’m embarrassed to write this, but I don’t have many places to turn with my question. My husband and I have been married many years and had an active sex life. As I age, sex is more and more painful. I want to stay intimate with him, but don’t know how to keep us both happy. Any thoughts would help.

A. Aging brings about many changes in a person’s body. It is normal for sexual desire and other issues affecting intimacy to change over time. However, that does not mean that your sex life needs to stop or change dramatically. In my work with couples, my favorite four-letter word for sex is TALK. You and your husband can have conversations at the kitchen table, while both fully clothed, about any discomfort or sexual problems affecting your relationship. It is 2017; there are so many ways to define your sex life. Our biggest sex organ is the skin. As we age, sex broadens beyond our genitals and extends to the horizons of warmth, familiarity, humor, and comfort. Sexual intimacy becomes more than intercourse. It includes touching, closeness, fantasies, role playing, and all those great possibilities that both of you may find exciting. You may also want to talk with your physician about any medications that may be impacting your health. Definitely talk with your husband about ways to touch and make pleasurable contact with each other. Bringing your concerns to light can bring about mutually acceptable solutions that benefit you both and prevent suffering in silence. As long as you are talking honestly, there is
no way to do this wrong. Sexual health is something that we all think about as the years pass. Staying healthy, engaged, and communicative with our partner can ensure that we enjoy sexual intimacy throughout our lives.

Want to learn more about maintaining an active sex life with pain? See our “Intimacy.”

Our expert: Jackson Rainer is a board-certified clinical psychologist who practices with the Care and Counseling Center in Decatur, Georgia, helping people living with chronic illnesses. He consults with a variety of experts to answer a selection of readers’ questions in each issue of Pain-Free Living.

Have questions about living with and managing chronic pain? Email questions to [email protected]. Please put “PFL Q&A” in the subject line.

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