Sex and Self-Pleasure for Pain Management

Something I wish I'd learned a long time ago was that an orgasm could temporarily reduce the pain I was struggling with from rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

It's bold and, to be honest, it's something I didn't really explore for a long time when I could have or should have; but for me, it really does make a difference. And, in the years since learning this, it's something I often choose to try before reaching for pain medication or other items in my RA toolbox.

Avoiding sex and self-pleasure

In the past, I used to avoid both sex and self-pleasure when I was struggling with RA symptoms.

I mean, it makes sense, right? When you're in pain, the last thing you want to do is touch or be touched. It's hard to feel sexy or even in tune with your body when it's causing you a mind-numbing amount of pain.

I know this, first hand, which is why I would always tell my partner I wasn't in the mood when I was hurting.

I had nothing to lose

Instead of pleasing myself or being pleased by him, I'd lay in bed beside him, wriggling in pain, sometimes crying with agony. I was afraid that intimacy would increase my discomfort or make my pain worse when, one day, I had nothing to lose but to try it.

It started in the shower one morning. I was hoping the hot water would loosen up the joint stiffness that I was struggling with. What started as a simple massage from my husband under the running water led to some kissing, and then some exploring.

And frankly, if I knew it would've given me the relief it did, I would've been on the "O" train much, much sooner in my life with RA.

The science behind orgasms and pain relief

Why, you may ask, does an orgasm reduce the pain I experience from RA? It turns out that orgasms release endorphins, the body's natural pain killers.1

In addition to easing the physical pain you might be experiencing, the closeness that you feel during intimacy can actually in turn make you feel stronger, and also more able to face the mental challenges of struggling with chronic pain.1

How do I relax enough to make this beneficial?

I feel like before I tried sex and/or self-pleasure while struggling with pain, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to physically relax enough to get into the mood, or in a sense, enough to get the job done.

What I realized was:

A. What's the worst that can happen? You're slightly more uncomfortable and significantly more annoyed than you were previously?


B. What things could help make this easier?

3 tips to help you relax

Lucky for you, I've put together a quick list of recommendations. 

1. Lighting. Turn the lights off, friends. Dark rooms are easier to relax in.

2. Music. Getting out of the silence in the room or the thoughts in my head can be hard when I'm hurting, so turning on music helps me to stay just distracted enough to find a release.

3. Lube. As mentioned before, lube is a great way to make intimacy more comfortable in general. So when working on an orgasm for pain relief, lube might be a great little hidden tool you hadn't thought about.

Additional reminders

And finally - my biggest recommendation - let yourself ease into this. It's not super easy to turn into a romantic mood or a self-pleasuring snob when you're struggling with RA symptoms.

It might take you several tries to find the way that works best for you to utilize orgasms for pain management. And most importantly - if your pain management involves someone else, be sure to communicate with them ;)

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