The Cleveland Clinic

Pain Management:
Maintaining Intimacy

When you are in pain, the last thing you probably want to do is be intimate with your partner. But, it is important to remain close to your loved one. A healthy intimate relationship can positively affect all aspects of your life.

Many people living with pain often have fears about sexuality, including:

  • Fear of rejection by a partner: It is common for people with chronic pain to feel that a partner is no longer interested. You may wonder if a partner is less attracted to you because you are in pain. Share your feelings and fears with your partner and listen to your partner's concerns.
  • 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.
  • Fear of failure to perform: Pain, depression, alcohol and medications all may affect sexual performance 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 medications can reduce your sexual ability and/or cause impotence. If you suspect a medication may be affecting your sexual performance, don't stop taking the drug without first consulting your doctor.