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Libido, Love and Physical Pain

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Libido is that delightful urge within us to seek physical, emotional, and sexual pleasure and orgasmic release. Love pushes us to reach our desired partner. Love helps us feel invincible, like we can conquer all obstacles and conquer all difficulties. But pain can stop us.
Pain is sometimes referred to as the 5th sign of life. When we’re in pain, especially sharp, stabbing, spasmodic, and intense pain, most of us can only focus on one thing – relieving or getting rid of the pain. Every now and then, after an intense athletic workout, an unexpected fall, or an injury, we may experience temporary pain that prompts us to avoid sexual intimacy for a short time. And usually our relationship doesn’t suffer from such a short break.
But what happens when pain becomes the norm, when our bodies hurt the most or even all of the time? What happens when we have trouble turning our head, bending our spine or knees, or supporting our body weight with our arms? What happens when severe body pain blocks our desire for sexual relationships?
Usually, when our body is screaming in pain, the desire for sex is not a very high priority. What we crave and need is to find a way to ease the pain. This is where love and caring can help us overcome all obstacles. A loving partner can touch, massage, and soothe our aching muscles, joints, or general aches and pains.
Pain develops a life of its own and demands attention and respect. When we honor the pain and look for ways to lessen it, our natural libido can regain its rightful place in our lives. When your body is in pain, DO NOT ignore it and keep trying to please your partner at your own expense. Be open and honest. Talk to your partner. Share your fears and discover together what helps to ease the pain.
Sometimes a warm bath or hot tub helps increase your passion, especially if you share the experience. The warm water and vibrating sensations can help you and your partner experience sensual pleasures.
Get moving. Sometimes the pain will subside as you walk and stretch and allow blood flow to the painful parts of the body. Sometimes rest and relaxation and sleep are the best solutions.
If certain physical activities, such as intercourse, are excruciatingly painful, explore new ways with your partner to find joy together. Open communication, a sense of physical and emotional safety, and a relaxing environment (soothing music, dim lights, pleasant scents in the air, soft pillows, warm blankets) along with loving eye contact, kind words, and gentle touches can help your brain bypass the pain signals. Sexual arousal increases the release of feel-good hormones and pain-relieving endorphins. Sometimes just a sexual encounter can help relieve your pain temporarily.

Pain is part of life. It affects all of us at some point, especially as we get older. Pain can be uncomfortable and certainly has the potential to limit our range of activities. But the pain does not have to interfere with, block or preclude the enjoyment of sensual and sexual pleasure. In a loving relationship we can find a way back to pleasure, and sometimes that’s the real solution to ending the pain.

Thanks to Erica Goodstone, Ph.D.

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