Losing That Mutual Sex Drive
By Dr. Mitchell S. Tepper, PhD, MPH, Sexologist
This article contains mature content and is not suitable for children under the age of 18.
Dear Dr. Tepper,
My wife and I have been married 24 years; it is a second marriage for both of us. One of our major attractions to each other was the incredibly strong sex drive of both partners. My wife, then 43, had a stroke, leaving her with left side weakness and an incessant head pain which has been with her and disabled her for 23 years. We both still retained our vibrant sex drive in spite of her head torture.
However, she went through a series of brain surgeries in 2003-04 which unsuccessfully tried to eliminate the pain condition. They seriously weakened her physically. Then in 2007, she lost her ability to walk, and since then has been in a wheelchair. She was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS, which has caused her progressively worsening physical conditions on top of her Central Pain Syndrome. During the same period, I contracted Peyronies Disease and, to help my erectile dysfunction, had a penile implant.
These ongoing physical conditions from both of us, have been the cause of almost total sexual abstinence. There was no loss of love or devotion, just the loss of the exceptional sexual manifestation of that love. I felt any touching would (and did) cause her pain and discomfort. She became so focused on her deteriorating physical condition that it turned her away from sex. We vocalized it to each other, but none of it changed. Both of us could use any available guidance to help us regain that blissful state. I am 75 and she is 66, but we both would love to find it again (with each other only, of course). We see the Cialis and Viagra ads and they make us jealous of others who can retain their urges at our ages. Can you help?
bm and jm
Recapture the Romance
Dear B and J,
Thank you for trusting me with your question. You both have experienced great losses over the years, physically and sexually. I wish I could say I had some magic to make the physical pain go away, but perhaps I can guide you on your way to regaining that bliss you seek. Here are my recommendations:
- Stop watching those Cialis and Viagra ads! They are designed to make you feel jealous and inadequate so that you will buy their products. Keep your focus on yourselves and each other.
- Cherish the love and devotion that you do have for each other, despite the waning in sexual activity. Some couples lose that when the sexual fires are no longer blazing.
- Put an end to the sexual abstinence. I'm not saying go right back to sexual intercourse. I'm suggesting you begin to reconnect sexually in any way. If even the slightest touch causes your wife pain, then just lay down next to her, both of you naked or in your favorite lounge wear, your bodies close enough so you could feel each other's warmth. Prepare your love nest with soft lighting, sensual music, and your favorite aromas. Make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable. Have a little wine if it helps you relax. Breathe. Be silly if you'd like. Whisper into her ear what you would love to be doing to her at that moment. Don't hold back. Be as detailed and explicit as possible. Perhaps describe a memorable sexual experience from your newlywed days. She can reciprocate by describing what she's feeling or what she would like to do to you in return. If touching you doesn't cause her pain, let her stimulate you if she is so moved or give yourself permission to touch yourself if the erotic stories you are sharing are getting you aroused. Think of it as phone sex without the phone.
- Plan some time over a hot beverage or a nice meal to brainstorm other ways you may be able to give each other pleasure. The goal doesn't have to be intercourse, and giving and receiving pleasure doesn't have to be simultaneous or equal. You can take turns giving each other the gift of erotic love without keeping track of who gave or received last.
One last note before I leave you on your pursuit of bliss. Sexual arousal and orgasm have natural pain blocking affects. If your wife gets aroused during one of your sessions, she can experiment touching herself to see if she tolerates more touch with less pain. If so, she could continue herself or guide you in a way that will increase her pleasure without causing more pain.
About the Author:
Dr. Mitchell Tepper brings a lifetime of first-hand experience with chronic conditions and disability to his work as an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator, AASECT Certified Sexuality Counselor, sex coach, writer, researcher, public speaker, licensed PAIRS Instructor, and self-proclaimed Prophet of Pleasure. He grew up with Crohn's Disease and broke his neck at age 20. After a private sector career in business and finance, Dr. Tepper realigned his life with his mission to end the silence around sexuality and disability. With no set career path in this field, Dr. Tepper founded his own company, The Sexual Health Network, and became a pioneer in the delivery of sexual health information and advice online in 1996. Many in the disability community know Mitch from his column, Love Bites, which he wrote for New Mobility magazine for 10 years. Dr. Tepper is called on regularly by the media and has been featured on CNN, Discovery, PBS and in popular press, including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, GQ, AARP and HuffPost Live. Dr. Tepper lives in Atlanta with his wife Cheryl and their 18-year-old son, Jeremy. Learn more at www.mitchelltepper.com andwww.regainthatfeeling.com.
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