What It's Like Living with Chronic Pain & Having a Satisfying Sex Life

The first blog I wrote that launched me into the blogging world was my piece on chronic pain and sex. It was, and still is, a very important piece of me. It was raw and emotional, but most importantly? I found out that it actually helped those with chronic pain feel less alone and their spouses understand what their loved one was going through a little bit better. That piece encouraged me to write more about my journey with chronic pain and sex topics. Today, I'd like to talk to you about chronic pain and sex toys!

First and foremost, a little bit about my back story. I was injured by a horse boarding with me back in 2011, she dislocated my shoulder and did some structure damage. Four years later in May of 2015, I injured it again (yes, another horse related incident!) and that injury, because there was already structural damage, was what really did my shoulder in. I had ligament and tendon damage, along with a torn rotator cuff. The surgeons originally thought there was something wrong with my spine so that was the main focus for the first year and then after that, I just kept getting bounced from different specialists to different surgeons. One surgeon even told me it was just my weight and I probably had fibromyalgia and to just go to pain management. What?! I was only 21 years old! I continued to push and finally in October of 2018, I found a surgeon who looked passed what the “classical symptoms” should be and he listened. I had a fully torn bicep tendons that was impinging my shoulder joint, torn ligaments, and I tore the front of my rotator cuff: all of this led to my nerves and muscles not working properly.  

The pain that comes with your body working against you can be unbearable at times. So much so that sex isn’t on your mind. But it’s not just the pain itself, it’s the lack of comfort and  the lack of arousal that can be caused by both the pain and a side effect of opioid medications. How does one keep a healthy sex life then? My answer? Toys.

Yes, sex itself is great, but there are times where is just isn’t possible. Sometimes it’s because it hurts too much to do anything more than lay flat on your back with ice or because no position works, or you just have such a low drive that what should be pleasure just seems like work or even torture. Introducing sex toys into my life was a huge game changer for me. There are times where you just desperately want need to take the edge off with a good orgasm but sex won’t cut it because your body won’t allow it. Listen: this is okay. I get intimacy is such an important part of a relationship but you can have intimacy without having sex.

Self play

Self play with toys can really help you relax. It can also help you find positions that are more comfortable or ones that help you orgasm better/faster. If chronic pain is something new to you and you’re afraid to approach your partner about new things, you really can start on your own. I do suggest letting your partner be a part of this, even that means just letting that watch at first. It can be quite erotic.

As I mentioned, I had nerve and muscle damage. That means that occasionally, my right arm and hand will go numb or I can’t feel my fingers at all. This sometimes means that’s it difficult to grasp things. On days like this, I prefer good old fashion dildos. Personally, the Uberrime Splendid is hands down one of my favorite toys all around but especially for bad days. The thicker shaft and wide base make it easier to grasp and hold onto and you don’t have to worry about it being awkward or hard to maneuver. It’s also easy to clean up with a plus when you’re having a rougher day. This toy comes in various colors and sizes if you’re picky about colors like me. Mine Is a medium size that’s purple to white marble. I love what Uberrime stands for and the overall safety of their toys. Toy material is so important. I have major allergy issues that are inflamed by a weakened immune system. I never have to worry about getting something unsafe or bad quality. They’re also uniquely hand poured so no two dildos are the same.

Along with dildos, vibrators are another thing I really like to use on the bad days. It’s easy to reach your clit and coax you to an orgasm without it taking much effort or physical exertion. The Rocks-Off Chaiamo Classic Rechargeable Vibrator is one that I personally like for just clitoral play. It has ten different settings which I love because some vibrations can be too strong when it comes to holding them and believe it or not, if you have neuropathy issues, those too strong vibrations can cause a pain flare up. Because it’s on the smaller side, easy to hold, easy to maneuver, and easy to change the speeds on. If you’re looking for a penetrating toy along with clitoral stimulation then I would suggest the Embrace Massaging Rabbit Rechargeable Silicone Vibrator. The slight curve to the shaft really works to bring you to and over the edge of pleasure. The best part? The Embrace and the Splendid dildo I mentioned are both water proof. You can bring them into the shower with you and the added warm water on a sore body makes it even more pleasurable!

Play with a partner

For those in relationships, understanding your partner(s)’ needs is vital. My ex partner did not understand my bad pain days and it was detrimental to our relationship. Being able to have an open line of communication is so, so important. If this is something you struggle with, try toys. Sometimes sex is too difficult but you can use toys to spice things up again without a lot of physical exertion on the part of the person with chronic pain. Not only that, but you get to learn your partner(s)’ body all over again. It’s honestly a great way to keep that connection with your partner and I found this way of exploration was perfect to find out things about my body that I didn’t know. Seriously, a whole new world of orgasm. It’s also really sexy to have your partner be apart of your orgasm. Letting them bring your there with the low impact of the toys may be very enjoyable.

I know sometimes toys can be intimidating to both parties but try not to let that happen. It’s does not make your partner less than for using a toy and you are not less than for using a toy on your partner. You may find this actually brings you so much closer to each other.

Suggestions for finding toys: research! I’m lucky enough to review toys for various companies but I cannot stress researching them enough. Always read the reviews and then do a google search for blog reviews. Blog reviews are very helpful. Keep in mind, most reviewers don’t deal with chronic pain and I only deal with it from the waist up so I can only speak to upper extremity difficulties but listen to what is said in the review and see what applies to you. I also find most companies have top notch customer service and will help match you with a toy that could work for you. But you won’t know until you try!

Overall, I hope you learned a little bit about how useful toys can be! Your sex life isn’t over because some days it hurts to exist, I promise!! I thought it was until I discovered the help of sex toys.

Cordelia Michaelson is from the North East region of the US. The 24 year old blogger focuses on chronic pain and sex blogs as well as blogs about sex law. She has a deep love for chocolate, vodka, and dildos. You can follow her on Twitter @CMichaelsonblog

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