Intimacy & Chronic Pain: How to Bring Back that Lovin' Feeling

From the Show: Wellness for Life
Summary: How can you bring intimacy back to your relationship when you're struggling with chronic pain?
Air Date: 2/3/17
Duration: 26:54
Host: Susanne Bennett, DC
Guest Bio: Liza Leal, MD, DAAPM
Dr. Liza LealDr. Liza Leal, MD, is a specialist in pain management and a member of the Faculty of the American Academy of Pain Management for 2004.

Her book, Cupid’s Challenge, provides the double authority of the author’s medical expertise and her firsthand experience as a chronic pain survivor and thriver. After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1995, Dr. Leal spent three years in a wheelchair while completing her medical degree at the University of Texas and doing her internship.

She now works closely with patients who live with chronic pain, many of whom must deal with its effects on their relationships. A strong advocate for patients’ rights, she is also a frequent lecturer to academic and community audiences and has written for several publications.

Dr. Leal’s expertise in pain management methods and her experience in treating and advising patients whose sexual relationships are adversely affected by recurrent pain make her eminently well qualified to write authoritatively about chronic pain’s multifarious effects on couples’ sex lives and the many strategies that partners can use to deal with chronic pain in the bedroom.
Intimacy & Chronic Pain: How to Bring Back that Lovin' Feeling
One hundred million Americans suffer from chronic pain. How can you be intimate if you’re constantly faced with debilitating pain?

Here's the usual scenario... one partner doesn’t entice because of the pain. The other feels rejected. Without communication, both partners become unhappy. Shame and embarrassment bar communication.

You must talk to one another about the pain. Dr. Liza Leal recommends the ICE Method for discussing intimacy.

  • Identify what isn’t working. Is the pain making you too tired for romance? Do you feel ashamed that current techniques make you hurt? Are you avoiding intimacy because it hurts? Find what is working right now.
  • Communicate about your struggles. Share what you have identified. Let the emotion out when you communicate. Your partner loves you and wants to pleasure you. It’s important that you feel good. Knowing what is limiting intimacy will help your partner satisfy you.
  • Explore what can be pleasurable and intimate with your concerns in mind.
Concentrate on what’s comfortable for you. You can then discuss what you’re willing to try. Consider what you did early in the relationship, and revisit the things you can still do.

Create a cherish list of the three things that make you feel loved, cared for and adored. Share your list with your partner. If you can’t do the first thing, start with what you can do from your partner’s cherish list.

Emotional intimacy is very key. There are things you’ll share with your partner that you wouldn’t share with another. This is just as important as sexual pleasure in a relationship.

Listen as Dr. Leal and Dr. Susanne Bennett share how to improve intimacy when pain has limited loving.