Understanding Your Body and Its Needs
When chronic pain becomes a constant companion, it's crucial to develop a deep understanding of your body's unique signals and needs. Your body legit knows what it needs and YOU are the expert of your personal experience. Take a moment to embrace self-compassion and acknowledge that! Listen closely to your body and honor its boundaries with love and kindness.
Listening to your body takes practice, self awareness, and understanding from both you and your partner. Some days, I feel like I can run a marathon with absolutely no training or preparation, but other days it’s a lot to even picture myself leaving my bed, brushing my teeth, or opening the curtains and acknowledging there is indeed an entire world outside.
In my 18 years with my partner, we are really only just now discovering my body’s signals and learning to respect them. Understanding when my body needs to slow down and rest or when I can go-go-go has been helpful in making us feel more connected and made me feel truly unconditionally loved.
If you’re not familiar with the signs your body can give you, start a daily journal! It can help you look at trends in your activity level, mindset, sex drive, foods that can contribute to flare-ups, and even where you are in your menstrual cycle.
To share my experience: A ready-for-anything-body for me can look like an upbeat, outgoing attitude, higher than normal energy and strength, a positive body image, a desire to socialize, and an affectionate approach towards my partner. A tired, flaring body for me looks like an introspective, quiet demeanor, joint and bone pain, utter exhaustion, a need for low impact exercises like yoga and simple, gentle stretching, higher-than-normal emotions with bouts of extreme sadness, and a complete willingness to do absolutely nothing.
Building a calm, nurturing environment is a total must in enhancing your sexual wellness journey. Consider transforming your bedroom or other place in your home into a restful, soft, welcoming space that supports relaxation and intimacy. Experiment with cozy, dim lighting, soft music, alluring scents, and sensual textures like silk, satin, velvet, or anything squishy and mushy that feels great to you. Whatever makes you want to take your clothes off and get cozied up next to a warm body (or relax solo) works!
Prioritizing Communication and Consent
Clear and completely open communication forms the foundation of healthy sexual experiences, particularly for women living with chronic pain, illnesses, and trauma. We often feel burdensome to our partners and even to ourselves. We have a tendency to put aside our wants and needs because sometimes, we have so fucken many of them! But it’s never okay to put your wants and needs aside during a sexual experience and a good partner will always make sure you feel safe, comfortable, and fully supported.
After nearly two decades with my partner, he still makes sure to ask before, during, and after if I’m all-in. Not just willing - but eager, excited, and satisfied. Even if that means I change my mind half way into it.
Create an environment where you feel safe and empowered to have open conversations with your partner about your needs, desires, and any concerns that may arise. Remember, consent should always be at the forefront of every sexual encounter, ensuring that you both feel respected and supported.
Embracing Pleasure Beyond Penetrative Intercourse
Expanding our perspective of pleasure is essential for embracing sexual wellness amidst chronic pain. Broaden your definition of intimacy and explore alternative forms of connection that bring you joy and fulfillment.
If your goal is orgasming, there are so many ways of achieving that without penetration. Explore clitoral stimulation or experiment with other erogenous zone orgasms! Some women enjoy breast stimulation and can climax from that alone! 75% of women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm.
Experiment with sensual massages, cuddling, hair pulling and playing. I turn into a purring cat when my husband runs his hands through my hair and I’ve discovered I really need that non-sexual touch from him in order to feel deeply connected and loved.
Allow yourself to find pleasure beyond what comes to mind when we hear the word, “intimate" and discover other ways of connecting and discovering yourself and your partner.
Incorporating Sensory Stimulation
Engaging all of your senses can heighten pleasure, deepen connection, and create profound moments of intimacy. Discover the power of sensory stimulation by incorporating textures, temperatures, and sensations that bring you comfort and delight. Explore the softness of luxurious fabrics, introduce feather ticklers or silky scarves into your play, and consider experimenting with temperature-adjustable lubricants
to enhance your sensory experiences. Celebrate the beauty of your body and the vast array of sensations it can experience.
Cultivating Emotional Well-Being
Chronic pain and conditions can really take a toll on your emotional well-being, which in turn affects your sexual wellness. Prioritize your mental and emotional health by engaging in activities that bring you joy and reduce stress. Check out mindfulness and healing books
or apps such as Headspace
, try journaling, find a creative hobby that brings you joy and can help with relaxation such as painting, drawing, or sculpting, seek out therapy or support groups specifically tailored to individuals with chronic pain, and always feel free to reach out to us for support and a listening ear.
By taking care of your emotional well-being, you pave the way for a more fulfilling and satisfying sexual journey.
Exploring Mind-Body Practices
Mind-body practices such as yoga, meditation, and breath-work can be incredibly beneficial for women with chronic pain and illnesses. These practices promote relaxation, reduce stress, improve body awareness, and enhance overall well-being. By adding these practices into your routine, you may find that your connection to your body deepens, and your awareness of what your body is telling you is dialed in, which in turn, leads to increased sexual confidence and that leads to better, more satisfying sex!
Knowledge is power, my friend. I encourage you to take the time to educate yourself about sexual wellness, chronic pain management, and the ways in which they intersect. Understanding the physical and emotional aspects of chronic pain and sexual wellness equips you with the tools to make informed decisions, advocate for yourself, and communicate effectively with your healthcare providers and partners. Audible
makes it easy for busy women to listen on-the-go, or check out our library for our hand-picked, top-recommended books on sexual wellness.
Seeking Professional Support
Don't hesitate to seek professional support from healthcare providers who specialize in sexual health and chronic pain. They can offer valuable guidance, personalized treatment plans, and additional resources to address your specific needs. Whether it's a pain management specialist, a pelvic floor physical therapist, or a sex therapist, collaborating with experts who understand the intersection of chronic pain and sexual wellness can be transformative in your journey.
Remember that self-care is a journey unique to you. Embrace gentle practices that resonate with you and your specific needs and desires, and be patient and kind to yourself along the way. Your desire for pleasure, connection, and joy is valid and deserving, regardless of the challenges you face. Keep exploring, learning, and finding what works best for your magnificent body and self. You are a warrior, and your journey to sexual wellness is a testament to your resilience and strength!As you continue on this path, know that our support is unwavering. Reach out to us whenever you need guidance, advice, or simply a listening ear. We're here to cheer you on and provide the resources you need to nurture your sexual wellness. Take gentle care, and remember that you are never alone in this journey.
Together, we can create a community that understands, celebrates, and uplifts one another.