Living with Chronic Pain

Romantic Relationships

The challenges of living with chronic pain can strain personal relationships, especially romantic relationships. Partners or spouses of those with chronic pain may feel helpless as they watch their loved one live with chronic pain. Partners often become responsible for more of the household duties, including parenting. If the individual with chronic pain is no longer able to work, financial concerns can add more pressure to the relationship. A partner’s support and understanding about their loved one’s pain and treatments can strengthen the relationship; however, a lack of support and understanding can lead to estrangement.

Sexual intimacy is an important part of a healthy romantic relationship. Chronic pain and certain chronic pain treatments can have a significant impact on an individual’s interest in sex and their ability to engage in sexual activity. Some pain medications can affect hormone levels, reducing sex drive or affecting the ability to perform. A simple blood test can identify any hormone imbalances.

Furthermore, finding a comfortable sexual position can take time, a bit of research, and practice. Preparation before sexual activity can help prevent increased pain. This might include taking pain medication, using temperature therapy, stretching, or having a partner massage a painful area. Finally, a consultation with a sex therapist may be needed. Sex therapists (e.g., psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, etc.) are specially trained in sexual health.

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