Low libido can be a side effect of chronic pain for numerous reasons. One reason being the mere pain of physical intimacy, and the other being side effects of long-term prescription drug use. Your sex life, when discussed with a ReclaimAbility pain physician, can improve through various recommendations and treatment options. There are ways for you to reclaim the romance in your love life, just in time for date night.
Defining Chronic Pain
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 20.4% of adults in the United States experienced chronic pain in 2016. Chronic pain is so prevalent that it has become one of the top reasons that adults seek medical care, accounting for 15% to 20% of hospital visits.
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. If you are experiencing pain that has lasted or recurred for more than three to six months, then you have chronic pain.
If there’s one thing that can completely disrupt romantic moments, it’s chronic pain. You may find that this pain makes you feel depressed, unenergized, and guilty because you can no longer do the things you used to enjoy doing. Talking to your doctor will help you manage this pain properly and positively impact not only your life, but also your and your partners’ relationship.
You may be experiencing low libido because of the following reasons:
Physical Pain During Sex
If you are living with chronic pain, you may find that achieving certain sex positions can be very painful. As human beings, we tend to do everything we can to avoid painful situations. However in this case, we don’t want to miss out on this pleasurable experience. We must instead find ways to adjust and treat the pain to make improvements in our sex lives. The physical pain of sex alone can decrease your sex drive and willingness to participate, which can leave you and your partner feeling disappointed.
Low Testosterone Levels
Certain medications for chronic pain can depress a person’s endocrine system and decrease the sex hormone testosterone. In men and women, testosterone is the driver of desire. Testosterone also has other advantages, including building your muscle mass and strengthening your core muscles.
When you have low testosterone, you may feel a little more pain and your libido may decline. This is why when considering pain medications for a patient, we make sure to discuss decreased libido as one of the potential side effects.
You should know that the acute use of opioids in pain therapy is appropriate and does not decrease libido. When used sparingly, pain medication can help with the discomfort you may feel following sex. However, the chronic use of opioids will cause a decline in your testosterone levels and, hence, decrease your libido.
My goal is to help you reclaim and improve your quality of life while living with chronic pain. I come up with solutions that make it easier for my patients to get back to doing the things they love, like enjoying sex once again. My first plan of action is to adequately treat their chronic pain.
Once a personalized treatment plan is underway, I will look into alleviating other problems connected to this pain.
Sex is not just a physical act, it’s also an emotional act that involves your partner. I encourage my patients to bring their partners to appointments, as this is a stepping stone to uncover more specific pain points. Sometimes, partners can communicate the impacts of chronic pain more clearly.
As a practice, we address both the physical and emotional aspects of your healing. Our pain psychologist, Dr. Brecher can discuss the emotional aspects of this issue with you every step of the way. Even when you experience physical improvement, attention and care should be given to the mental capacity it takes to live with chronic pain.
If the act of sex is proving difficult, we can help you figure out how to enjoy sex again. Sometimes, all it takes is changing your physical approach to sex.
Typically when you have chronic pain, you have to change your method of doing things. You may not be able to perform certain sexual acts, but there are other ones that could work in your favor. Trying other sex positions can provide you with the same benefits without aggravating your underlying pain condition.
Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to discuss the details with your doctor and explore other sources of information to figure out which positions work best for your pain condition.
As a comprehensive pain clinic, we can determine if your low libido is caused by low testosterone levels and treat this with testosterone replacement therapy.
There are several ways to do this. We offer testosterone gels that can be put on your skin daily. Another option is testosterone in the form of injections. Once we know the appropriate dose for you, we can also implant pellets of testosterone under the fatty tissue of the skin. These pellets dissolve over time inside the body. The implants eliminate the need for daily applications or injections.
When done appropriately to limit side effects, testosterone replacement will not only increase your libido and help with sex, but it will also improve your muscle tone and allow you to recover faster during physical therapy. Testosterone replacement can benefit your overall health and your ability to modulate physical pain.
Too much testosterone can lead to certain side effects. Excess testosterone can cause prostate cancer in men. It can also make you more prone to heart attacks.
This is why I recommend that testosterone replacement be done at a baseline level. Your body’s testosterone should be supplemented in amounts that can mitigate any side effects from it while attaining the benefits of improved sex drive and physical function.
At ReclaimAbility, we care about the overall health of the entire individual. When I create a treatment plan for my patients, I extend beyond the scope of the physical feeling pain brings and reach deeper into improving their quality of life. Through our informed recommendations, patients can reclaim the romance in their love lives even while living with chronic pain.
Living with chronic pain can greatly reduce your quality of life and can cause you to have low libido. However, if you get comfortable talking to your doctor about this, the door will open to getting the help you need. This will better your relationship with your lover and empower you to explore sex in a whole new way.
After I’ve started the process of treating your chronic pain, it doesn’t just stop there. We have implemented a screening protocol to follow up with you periodically. Our protocol is designed to find out how ReclaimAbility’s treatments have affected all aspects of your health, including your sex life. I want my patients to think of their follow-up appointments not just as a time to discuss their chronic pain, but as an opportunity to unveil what they want to reclaim. This includes physical function, mood, quality of life and potentially your sex drive and libido. If you are experiencing low libido due to chronic pain, speak with myself or our other physicians at ReclaimAbility Pain Services.