Sex and Chronic Conditions: Finding Pleasure Past the Pain

Sex and chronic illness are not completely incompatible, and your needs as an individual matter.


Anyone suffering from chronic pain or illness knows full well that the ache it provides is more than just physical. Any form of debilitating condition can leave an individual feeling incapable, frustrated, or in some way flawed and, although logically we know this isn’t the case, sometimes those thoughts sting more than the condition itself.

This can be particularly prominent when it comes to sex.

Sex and Pain

Sex and any form of pain don’t really mix. There’s a reason why the old cliché of avoiding sex involves pain (namely, a headache), as trite as it may be, and pain can be a serious hindrance to long-term intimacy and sexual satisfaction.

This is the case not just with partner play but also with self-love too. It’s hard to feel motivated to maintain a sexual self-care routine when self-care itself sometimes seems like too much when fighting against your body and its physical responses.

But sex and chronic illness are not completely incompatible, and your needs as an individual matter. What’s more, sometimes sex can cause a release of chemicals that decreases pain for a few hours afterwards. In short, effective sex is therapeutic, in more ways than one, so let’s look at how to make it a possibility.

Know Your Major Pain-Points

This is probably the easiest (but also most frustrating) step of sex and chronic conditions.

When trying to achieve comfortable sex it is very important to know exactly where your primary pain points are and what is likely to trigger them. This will allow you to consider your options in terms of position and how your partner might best be able to assist you.

Identifying this will also help you consider items such as sex furniture that may help alleviate your pain. Knowledge, as always, is power.

Plan Ahead

As the old saying goes, plans are doomed to fail but planning is indispensable.

When you have a chronic condition, chances are that spontaneous sex is not often an option for you, this may seem like a bummer at first but there is an alternative—surprise planning.

Surprise planning is about identifying how your body is feeling (whether you feel capable for sex as a possibility) and then working to prepare and plan a sexual activity from there.

This can also be a long-term thing, which involves identifying the times of the day/week/month where you usually feel the least amount of pain and scheduling sex in to these windows of opportunity).

It may not be the in-the-moment-fuck that most media glamorises, but sex so rarely matches this standard anyway so you do you!

Speaking of which…

Get To Know Yourself Intimately

If you suffer from chronic pain this may be the last thing on your mind, but getting to know your body’s sexual capabilities is crucial, not for anyone else’s sake as much as for your own.

If you know how to safely and enjoyably pleasure yourself then you always have an option open to you when it comes to self-love and sexual achievement. And, although it might not be a conventional form of sexual intercourse, the value of masturbation for a partnered play session should never be underestimated, especially if it provides you with pleasure where usually there is only pain.

The Takeaway

Sex and chronic conditions might seem like an insurmountable challenge at first but, in reality, the logistics of achieving a happy sex life while in pain are much the same as any other aspect of living with such a condition.

At the end of the day knowing yourself will be your greatest ally when moving forward—including knowing your limits and knowing when to stop. You are (and always will be) your strongest supporter. Never forget that.

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