Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS and the medications that go along with it have many side effects, including, but not limited to, intimacy, sexual intercourse, and libido for both men and women. Although they are somewhat interconnected I wanted to talk a little about each one individually.
Let’s talk about both physical and intellectual intimacy first. Dealing with any disease and everything that goes with it makes life more difficult than it should be. If we throw a relationship into the mix, things just went a few notches up, as far as difficulty goes. All relationships need time and effort to be successful. As humans, we are social beings, and we crave social interaction as well as a need to feel connected with someone and are worthy of feeling loved. When we are intimate on an intellectual level, we share our thoughts, ideas and express our feelings with another person. We want to spend time with another, talk about things, listen to each other, be sincere, caring and nurturing which can lead to the desire for physical intimacy. Hugs, touches, and caresses in a gentle loving manner where both parties will feel a heightened sense of well-being and happiness.
A major issue with CRPS, is, of course, the constant pain. The affected limb is hyper sensitive to every little touch or even a slight breeze can cause extreme agony. We become guarded of the limb, we do our best to not disturb it, and we are usually fidgety and nervous when someone comes near us. As you can probably surmise this can lead to us unable or not wanting to be intimate with another person. The feelings of isolation can intensify and can cause more anxiety and emotional distress that are already affecting the patient. This can lead to the individual being emotionally unable for intellectual intimacy as well.
This leads us straight into the discussion sexual intercourse because the reason some of the reasons for not wanting to engage in the physical act of sex are the same as with intimacy. With sex, physical contact is part of the equation and the affected limb ‘will get the way’ of any possible enjoyment from having sex. Some couples figure out ways around this by utilizing various positions so the limb is safe from causing any pain. I am sure some people might go at it right through the pain, but I can’t imagine that being very successful. Sometimes it just may be worth it and we might feel better after because when we have sex, our body release endorphins and endorphins can give us pain relief.
So, as we can see, both intellectual and physical intimacy and sexual intercourse are very limited or even impossible for couples to engage in. It is suggested, however, if you have the desire for intimacy and/or sexual intercourse, find a way to make it work and enjoy it as much and as best as you can.
Libido, or sexual desire, may be affected also and have many causes. The pain can leave us drained, the medications might leave us numb and we can get depressed and our sex drive can be going 0mph, a complete stop. With all these reasons working against and the fact we may not be sure what exactly is causing our libido loss in the first place, some CRPS spoonies just give up on it all. They might think that this is the way it’s just going to be or that it might be too much work to turns things around. Well, you can settle for that, if you want, or you can saddle up and get back on that horse. When it bucks you off, you get back on again and keep trying.
As I stated earlier all relationships take work. CRPS makes relationships a 1000x harder. I am here to tell you may never get easier, but this is the hand we have been dealt, we have to make adjustments and make things work.
We can try to figure out if a specific medication is causing our libido loss, if it is, speak with your doctor to try something different. If it is depression, we need to speak with a mental health specialist or our doctor to see what needs to be done to deal with it head on. If there is a fear of pain to the leg, figure out body positions that might help. If you do not feel up to a conversation, a hug or a kiss, wait until you do feel good and make it happen.
I know, for myself, I am having issues dealing the feeling that I hate this new life I am leading and I want my old life back. This is leading to me being sad and depressed, which then, in turn, is making me not want any intimacy. I am working with my doctor to try work through the depression and getting to the root of the problem. My libido, or should I say, my lack of lido is believed to be from one of my medications, so we are going to make a change and see what happens.
The point is, we have no choice but to at least try to make changes to see if we can fix the issues. If not, this can snowball to even worse depression and health problems. We have to accept what is happening to us and do whatever it takes to adjust and tackle all the problems CRPS is sending our way.
Remember, none of us are ever alone!