Do you get the quickie?

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Agonizing Ecstasy

I've just started seeing a new woman for the first time in two years. I have fibromyalgia and terrible, often disabling chronic pain. I have had some S/M play and oral sex with her, and we had intercourse one time. But even with one of the major erectile dysfunction (ED) meds, I still couldn't keep an erection for more than a few minutes, and I definitely couldn't have an orgasm! The next day, and for the next 4 days, I hurt like hell! There was no flogging or bondage—just CBT and nipple twists. My legs, arms, and back hurt so bad, I thought I was gonna die! My doctors don't know WTF to do with me. Pain meds are so far the only answer—that and getting massage and acupuncture.

How can I not screw up this new relationship? She is INCREDIBLY understanding, which kicks ass! I do need to have my testosterone checked, as I have read that taking the opiates I am prescribed for pain can lower a guy's levels and contribute to ED. Not being able to come sucks, too! The thing is, when I masturbate alone, I can come. No pressure to please anybody else, right? I just need some suggestions on how to make sex and play a bit easier so I won't hurt so much! What is safe for somebody like me to do? Also, I just feel bad about the 'typical guy shit' like erections and orgasms. The cool thing about the other night was that she was all about pleasing me and then letting me go down on her, which really wore me out! I definitely couldn't get my cock hard again, much less come. There has got to be a happy medium. Help!

You asked for an opinion. Here are three.
In Your Head
Guinea Pig
Hurt So Bad

My deepest sympathies! My partner has fibromyalgia, and I know how unpleasant it can be. Chronic pain, being tired all the time—it wears you out.

Chronic pain causes a lot of stress for the body, and stress can cause erection difficulties. Plus, stress (from whatever cause) can increase the pain of fibromyalgia, so it’s a really unfortunate cycle. I can’t tell from your question whether you’ve explored these options, but for some people, managing diet, reducing overall life stress, getting enough sleep, yoga, gentle exercise, biofeedback, and meditation can be helpful in lowering the level of stimulation to below your pain threshold. If you haven’t looked into these approaches, you might find them helpful. Also, for some folks with fibromyalgia, massage can actually make it worse, so I recommend finding a bodyworker who’s familiar with fibro rather than someone who’s just skilled at massage.

A lot of doctors don’t know what to do about fibromyalgia, so they often prescribe pain meds. There’s evidence that fibro affects the neural pathways, so pain meds may not work since they focus on a different part of the body. Think of it like trying to fix your phone when the problem is in the wires. For some people, Norepinephrine Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (NSRI's) can be helpful. I’m not a medical doctor, so get professional advice, but you might want to look into these as an alternative to pain meds. Since they address the nervous system directly, they can have a positive impact on fibromyalgia. And a lot of people find that medical marijuana helps, although you’d need to make sure that it’s compatible with whatever other meds you take.

As far as making sex more enjoyable, there are some different ways you can go. Try soaking in a warm bath before sex. The heat can decrease muscle stiffness and pain, while the support of the water can help your body relax. It’s also really helpful if you can let go of the idea of spontaneous sex. When dealing with fibro, you’ll probably do better if you plan ahead. Make sure that you have a relaxing day in order to keep your stress level to a minimum. Or have sex in the morning, before the hassles of the day wear you out.

Another helpful approach is to widen your definition of sex. If it feels good, then it counts whether you have an erection or not. Sensual massage, oral sex, prostate play, vibrators—do whatever feels good and brings you and this lovely woman together. The more goal-oriented you are, the more likely it is that you’ll just get in the way. The more you can let go of the goal, the less stress you’ll be under and (ironically) the more likely you are to have fun sex.

You could also try using pillows to create support so your muscles can relax. I like the Liberator Wedge because it’s firmer than a regular pillow and the machine-washable cover makes it easy to take care of. Or for oral sex on her, have her lie on her back with her hips at the edge of the bed. You can sit on a chair and go down on her without hurting your neck. Whatever you can do to keep your body as relaxed as possible will reduce your pain and make sex more fun.

Since you’re able to enjoy masturbation, how about a little solo sex while she kisses, massages, or strokes you with her hands, hair, and breasts?

While fibromyalgia can be really challenging, please don’t get discouraged. There are lots of great websites, blogs, and online community groups where you can get support, ideas, information, and community. One of the challenges of fibro is that it’s an invisible issue, and a lot of people simply don’t understand it. Building some support networks can often make a big difference. There are also lots of good books about fibromyalgia. The more you know, the easier it’ll be, so check some of them out and see if any of them are helpful for you.

Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman

Dr. Charlie Glickman has been working at Good Vibrations since 1996, when he joined the staff at the Berkeley store. Currently, he is the Education Program Manager and (among other things) runs the in-store After Hours workshop program, the Off-Site Sex Education Program, trains the Sex Educator-Sales Associates and writes copy for the website. In 2005, Charlie received his doctorate in Adult Sexuality Education from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition, he offers classes on sexuality for psychotherapists and workshops on teaching for sex educators.
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