I’ve always enjoyed sex and been a woman who has felt liberated to really seek pleasure and fulfilment with my partner. So, it came as quite a shock when I developed a debilitating chronic disease that really effected my physical health and sexual health.
My partner was very understanding and caring, but I felt like I had lost part of my identity and that my health affected our intimacy. Initially, I tried to keep things normal and ignored the pain and discomfort but it was really obvious to my partner that I was not enjoying sex the way I used it. He was great and really concerned but I still felt responsible for the lack of connection.
I had to take medication which also made me put on weight and lose touch with my body. I felt like a completely different person and I lost confidence in myself and my own sensuality. The medication was a double-edged sword as I knew I need it to improve my overall health but it reduced my libido and changed my body shape.
I tried to just ‘handle’ it but in the end I went and talked with my doctor about how the pain and medication was really affecting my sex life and intimacy with my partner. She was awesome, even though I felt quite uncomfortable talking about it with her, she really acknowledged how important my feelings were. She talked about other options for medication and also about other options for intimacy and suggested I could see a sex therapist/occupational therapist who could help me work out how to still enjoy connection with my partner and work though any worries I had. At first I thought that was a crazy idea, but then I found the courage to make an appointment and it was so helpful.
I guess we don’t often get to talk about these sorts of challenges especially with someone who understands. It was really helpful to get some ideas of how to be intimate, loving and sensual in a way that would work for me and my partner. It did mean letting go of some previous ways of doing things but it also meant embracing some beautiful connecting things that I had never thought of.
So, I guess there is always so much more to consider, it’s just that we get stuck in our old ways of thinking and are so quick to judge ourselves. I’ve learnt a lot from this experience and most of all I’ve learnt that when you speak up and share what you are struggling with, most of the time people will care to listen and really do want to help.
This story was a contribution to the Storylines: Her Voice Matters project, a collaboration between Women’s Health Goulburn North East, Women’s Health Loddon Mallee and Murray PHN.