Chronic Illness and Chronic Pain
Many people born with chronic diseases, or those who develop them later in life, suffer for many years with their condition. They must learn to make adjustments in many parts of their lives, including their sexual behaviors. Chronic pain from illnesses such as arthritis, migraine headaches, and lower back pain can make intercourse difficult or impossible at times. One woman describes the results of her painful condition:
It is difficult to express sensual pleasures—intercourse, touching, holding, hand-holding, hugging—when my body hurts. I often feel pain when trying new positions, which is
also affected by my limited range of motion. My husband was afraid to try new things
and positions sometimes because of the fear he might physically hurt me. I was afraid of trying new things because I might hurt myself or cry out in pain and spoil the mood or feel embarrassed. (Kohler et al., 1990, p. 95)
Still, with gentle, caring lovemaking and an avoidance of those positions that are too painful or stressful, many people report that sexual activity actually provides them some respite from their pain.