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Your Sex Drive With Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Updated June 25, 2014

Your Sex Drive With Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

You're tired. You hurt all over. Exertion can wipe you out for days. When you have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, is it any wonder your sex life isn't great?

On top of symptoms, many of us are on medications (such as antidepressants) that can lower sex drive, and these illnesses can put a big strain on our relationships. It all leads many to assume that sex is just one more thing illness has taken away.

One reader, however, wrote to me recently about how her sex drive came back rather suddenly. She said:

"It  has been quite a while since I have even been interested in sex, due to medications they give me for all my conditions.  However, recently I had a pap smear and the spectrum being inserted, and staying in a while, along with smears, seemed to have stimulated my sexual drive. Have woman found that if they have sex, they are more responsive the more frequently they have it?  Thinking about the problem -- the radio tuner up high with fibro, perhaps that doctor's visit turned up the radio in an area that had not been tuned recently, if you know what I mean.

I would love to see a segment about sex, sexual desire (increase or decrease and why), and forms of stimulation that your partner can help with (and do not irritate you to death) to get the mojo started."

My experience was nowhere near as dramatic, but I can say that early in my illness the drive was essentially gone during flares and definitely took a dip in between flares as well. But once my husband and I figured out how to deal with some of my issues, especially tactile allodynia (pain from gentle touch), and we were able to increase frequency, my drive did return.

I think one of the biggest problems we faced was fear. I feared putting myself into a flare by over exerting myself, and he was afraid he'd hurt me. It took time and patience for us both to be comfortable again.

Some ideas for bringing sex back into your relationship include:

  • Clear communication: Your partner needs to understand the symptoms that are limiting you in order to accommodate them.
  • Experimentation: Would certain positions mean less pain for you? Would certain activities be less likely to trigger post-exertional malaise? Read a book or two if you need ideas.
  • Patience: You may need time to re-build your libido, your comfort, and your trust in each other.

My About.com colleague Cory Silverberg, Guide to Sexuality, has a lot of great information that can help you. He's got an entire section devoted to Sex & Disability, one on Talking About Sex, and another on Sex Positions. I hope you'll explore these areas and find the information you need.

Have you said good-bye to sex? Would you like to see it come back into your life? Have you found ways to make it work for you? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!

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