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Health & Diet Tips

5 Ways to Improve Intimacy When Living With an Autoimmune Disease

Improving intimacy when living with an autoimmune disease is possible even if you're not feeling up to sexual intimacy or intercourse.

Having an autoimmune disease or other chronic illness can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. When day-to-day responsibilities and chores can feel impossible to manage, it's difficult to imagine wanting to engage in sex or sexual intimacy or tend to the needs of another adult.

Limitations stemming from autoimmune disease symptoms can extend to the bedroom and take a toll on romantic relationships. Even with an understanding and supportive partner, you could personally feel frustration with pain or fatigue getting in the way of a physical connection.

It's also common for sex or intimacy to be the last thing on a person's mind when struggling with illness. Understandably, you might prefer time spent in bed to provide a pain-free night of restful sleep. Plus, medications for things like pain, depression, or other autoimmune disease symptoms can cause sex drive to plummet.

So, if sexual intimacy is not a high priority for you right now, we hear you. But, if you're frustrated with the status quo and looking for ways to improve overall intimacy while living with an autoimmune disease, hopefully, we can help.

After all, sex and intimacy are an essential part of life for many people and can even contribute to pain and stress relief. At Mymee, we believe that feeling healthy and empowered should extend to all aspects of your life – including intimacy.

How to Improve Intimacy While Suffering from Autoimmune Disease Symptoms

1. Communicate to Improve intimacy

Deep conversation can improve connections without sex. There are so many resources to help to upgrade communication skills. Try exploring how to improve communication or how to strengthen your communication and listening abilities.

Tell your partner about your physical boundaries and where your limitations are today. For example, explaining things like, "my joint pain hurts too much for sex right now, but we can kiss," can help increase your partner's understanding of where you are at when it comes to sex. It can help to verbalize alternatives if you're not feeling up for it.

Communicate your needs often. Tell your partner how they can provide that for you if you need a hug or are craving physical touch like holding hands. In turn, ask what they need too.

Successful couples are continually exploring each other and dancing back and forth between the other's needs and wants. When you have the energy, ask new questions to learn current information: How are they doing? How are they handling a current situation? If they could wave a magic wand, what would they wish for? Discovering something new about your partner can enhance intimacy by giving them the spotlight.

2. Having Fun Together Ups the Intimacy

Enjoying each other's company is necessary to make any relationship work. If sex is not on the agenda, find another area of life you both take pleasure in. You can take up a hobby together that is as active or nurturing as you need it to be. Some examples are reading the same book, going for evening walks, sharing your musical taste, or learning how to recreate your favorite restaurant meal.

3. Plan Ahead to Achieve Successful Intimacy

If you are feeling well enough for sex or sexual intimacy, great! It has so many benefits and can act as a natural pain reliever. Plan for intimacy around times of the day that are better for your symptoms. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis wake up feeling achy and stiff and morning is not their best time of the day. If this sounds familiar, aim for later in the day when you are feeling better. If you tend to experience fatigue in the evening, maybe planning for the morning is better. Listen to your body and try to work with, not against, your symptoms.

Plan for an environment where you feel more comfortable and physically supported. This might mean bed, but maybe it's the couch, a chair, or even the floor. Don't be afraid to explore what works best for you.

4. Explore Alternatives to Sexual Intimacy

Intimacy is so much more than sex. Any emotional and physical bonding such as hand-holding, kissing, gentle massage, hugging, and cuddling boosts the love chemical in your brain called oxytocin.

Engage in together time more deeply by avoiding distractions and increasing eye contact. We suggest making time for electronic-free dates by putting the phone down and turning off the screens. Tech-free time is an intimacy booster that helps you focus on your partner, making you both feel more seen and heard.

5. Sex Therapy to Improve Intimacy

If it feels like your intimacy struggles have hit a low, enlisting the expertise of a relationship or sex therapist to work with you alone or as a couple can help you learn how to communicate needs, desires, and boundaries best. Therapy can help with anxiety and resentment surrounding sex and intimacy stemming from your physical symptoms or past experiences. A trained therapist can work with you to explore sexual positions or acts that could be possible and make you feel good, despite your autoimmune disease symptoms.

Living with an autoimmune disease is complicated, whereby your health is your only priority. We hear you – we've been there too. However, this is a gentle remember that you can include intimacy (and sex when you're able) while living with an autoimmune disease. Take it slow, listen to your body and emotions, and reach out for help if you need it!

If you're looking to alleviate your autoimmune disease symptoms and remove them as an obstacle to intimacy, Mymee can help. Book a session with a certified health coach and start feeling better. 



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