A healthy sexual relationship can positively affect all aspects of your life. However, chronic pain issues can interfere with healthy sexuality.

When chronic pain is present, you may not feel like sharing your thoughts and feelings or having close contact with another person. You also may not be interested in more intimate physical contact, including sexual intercourse.

Why might people with chronic pain fear intimacy?

For people with chronic pain, fear issues may be part of the reason sexuality is avoided. These issues include:

  • Fear of rejection by a partner: It is common for people with chronic pain to feel that a partner is no longer interested. You might wonder if a partner is less attracted because you are in pain. Talk about your partner’s feelings and fears, and share your own.
  • Fear of pain associated with sex: It is natural to worry that sexual intercourse will cause you physical pain. You can address this concern by experimenting with different positions that are more comfortable. Also, relaxation exercises can help reduce fears and manage pain.
  • Fear of failure to perform. Pain, depression, alcohol, and medicines are among the factors that might affect sexual functioning, or the ability to get aroused or have an orgasm. Sometimes, failure to perform is due to stress and anxiety. In many cases, patience and understanding can help in overcoming performance problems. Many medicines can reduce your sexual ability and/or cause erectile difficulties. If you suspect a medicine may be affecting your sexual performance, don't stop taking the drug without first consulting your doctor. You can also speak to your physician about medication to improve erectile functioning.