Fibromyalgia can have major physical impacts on an individual. Fatigue and muscle pain can be debilitating symptoms of this condition and can affect every aspect of a person’s life.
However one often over-looked impact of fibromyalgia is its effect on a person’s sex life. While a decreased sex drive is not a common characteristic of fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia can lead to a lack of sexual interest (libido), a condition that often accompanies depression, stress and anxiety, and poor sleeping patterns.
It’s important to discuss the effects of FMS on sexuality because a lack of sexual intimacy between two people can lead to a breakdown in the emotional bond in the relationship.
While FMS is more common in women, sexual side effects of fibromyalgia are also pertinent to men, as the effects of FMS on sexuality can affect both partners in a relationship.
What is the link between fibromyalgia and libido? Why does FMS cause a decrease in sexual desire?
Fibromyalgia leads to pain in the muscles; this creates pressure and squeezing in the pelvic area and in the lower back. During intercourse, these muscles cramp, creating a lot of discomfort for the individual. As a result, sexual intercourse becomes associated with negative physical sensations and is avoided.
Also, fatigue caused by FMS interrupts sleep patterns. This in turn affects intimacy, as the individual with FMS simply doesn’t have the energy to engage in sexual intercourse.
Medications also play a role. Drugs prescribed to individuals with fibromyalgia often contain high levels of serotonin, a hormone that results in decreased libido and a decreased erectile ability.
Another fundamental component of the link between FMS and sexuality is the emotional aspect of having FMS. FMS can lead to a negative self-image due to physical changes in the body like weight changes and muscle mass loss. Self-esteem is impacted, as feelings of anxiety and depression elevate to an often-overwhelming level. While anti-depressants can help treat these emotions, they also can lead to a decreased sexual desire and function.
The catch is that while sex can relieve symptoms of FMS, like pain and depression, FMS itself results in a decreased libido, fatigue and pain that hinder the individual’s desire and ability to engage in sexual intercourse.
Sex helps decrease pain because it releases positive hormones in the brain, which reduce the distress an individual feels both physically and emotionally.
In order to reclaim your sex life, it’s important to accept the changes in your sex life that come with FMS. Learn all you can about FMS and its effects on sex and sexual intimacy.
Communicate with your partner
Talk about these changes and your own concerns with your partner in order to stay connected emotionally and intellectually. Communication helps maintain an intellectual and emotional bond between you and your partner. This connection will in turn help boost sexual intimacy.
Another great tip is improving your self-care regimen. Grooming and physical activity can help you look and feel your best, and as a result help enhance your libido. Involving your partner in exercise furthermore enhances sexual intimacy so go for a walk with your partner.
It’s also important for the individual in the relationship who does not have FMS to take a more active role in sex. This person can initiate sex more frequently, or provide new ideas to increase sexual intimacy, including new sexual positions.
This way, he or she can provide both a physical and emotional crutch for the more fragile person in the relationship, who won’t feel as pressured to please and so can focus on the physical benefits of sex.
Planning a good time for both parties to be intimate is also important. While this may seem like a more calculated approach to sex, it helps ensure that both parties feel desirable and physically up to sexual intimacy.
For example, planning sex in the morning when the partner with FMS is likely to feel more energized helps increase the level of pleasure and participation of both parties.
Keep in mind though that sexuality doesn’t just include intercourse. Intimate activities like sharing baths and giving each other massages can help rekindle intimacy in a relationship. They also stimulate relaxation, which creates a mental and emotional state conducive to sexual intimacy.
Talk to your doctor if the medications you are taking to treat your fibromyalgia are negatively impacting your libido and discuss possible alternatives.
Participating in our online forum is another great tool in relieving your feelings of sexual frustration or insecurity because it links you to others who also have FMS.
Discussing your sexual concerns and how FMS has impacted your sex life is an invaluable experience because it will make you feel less isolated and provide you with an excellent emotional support system.
Staying connected to your partner and your emotions will help your libido, thereby helping ease your FMS symptoms and improving your overall health and quality of life.