Has Fibromyalgia Ruined Your Love Life?

The effects of fibromyalgia are far reaching and may even extend to your love life. But it doesn't have to ruin everything.

Fibromyalgia is a challenging autoimmune disorder that causes deep muscle pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and joint stiffness. If left untreated, it can infiltrate all aspects of your life, including your relationships.

Even those who receive treatment can have a tough time feeling intimate and connected becase some medications can zap energy and libido. People whose partners have fibromyalgia sometimes feel bogged down by their loved ones low spirits, discomfort and accompanying symptoms. All these factors can put a damper on your love life, but it doesn't have to be that way.    

1. Get help. If you haven't already sought medical treatment for your fibromyalgia symptoms, now's the time. Patients used to have a hard time getting properly diagnosed and treated for sometimes-mysterious fibro symptoms. Times have changed and now more doctors understand fibromyalgia's pathology and successful therapies to reduce pain, fatigue and other symptoms. 

  • Find a doctor who has experience treating fibromyalgia.
  • Join a support group and encourage your partner to join a caregiver's group. Taking some of the emotional weight off your diagnosis can open up new channels of communication for you and your partner.

2. Treat your pain. There are a variety of medications to help fibro patients deal with pain ranging from over-the-counter and prescription-strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to antidepressants and opiate-based medications. The better you manage your pain, the easier it is to focus on the good parts of life.

3. Treat your anxiety and depression. Chronic pain wears on the mind, body and spirit. Anxiety and depression are hallmark symptoms that accompany many chronic diseases, including fibromyalgia. Getting professional help through therapy, stress management and medication is essential.

Not everyone has the same experience with antidepressants and many patients find that once the fog has lifted off their gloomy mood, they look forward to reconnecting with their partner. Some patients complain, however, that antidepressant/antianxiety medications lower their sex drive. Talk to your doctor if your medications are affecting your libido. Switching to a different antidepressant or adding additional medications may help you get your spark back.

4. Get some exercise. No matter how you feel, make time every day for exercise. People who exercise regularly report greater sexual fulfillment and satisfaction with their body. Exercise is also proven to improve energy levels and mood and increase flexibility, stamina and overall feelings of wellbeing. It also tones muscles and helps with weight maintenance, which adds up to a better sense of physical self-esteem.

5. Make an effort. Nurture your sexuality by maintaining your appearance and creating intimate moments.

  • Make good grooming, hygiene and dressing a priority. People who feel good about the way they look have an easier time getting in the mood than people who think they look as lousy as they feel.
  • Create opportunities to connect with your partner when you know you usually feel your best. 
  • Take pain medication in advance if muscle pain and stiffness tend to get in your way. 
  • While you may not start out feeling in the mood, once you're on your way to an intimate connection, you're likely to be glad you made the effort.