Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Intimacy – What To Do About It?
Feeling emotionally strangled is very common in inflammatory bowel disease patients. Patient often feel anxious, distressed and embarrassed and fret about their relationship. These emotional changes may result from IBD symptoms that make the patients very uncomfortable about their situation and they may panic about painful sex, body odor, having to go to loo during sex and unwanted adverse reaction of inflammatory bowel disease medications on their sex life.
IBD & Communication In Sexual Relationships
It is ideal to discuss everything with the partner and the consulting doctor. It may feel difficult at first but it will only help in getting through this phase. As the cliché goes that every cloud has a silver lining, similarly the disease phase is followed by remission phase and a healthy normal life.
Being completely open and honest does not only help get past the embarrassment but also makes the relationship more intimate. However, this does not mean to inform the partner initially with every tiny detail of the disease. Taking everything a step at a time and building the right image of the condition gradually can be of great help. This boosts the confidence of the patients by being completely honest to their partner and also helps in overcoming their fears regarding intimacy. Educating the partner with authenticity and patience is the key to a happy stabilized relationship, which may appear difficult in the beginning but with time, everything will work out just fine.
Having trouble with sex especially pain during intercourse may be a red flag for inflammatory bowel disease patients. Consulting a doctor and seeking medical assistance is important at this point before things get out of hand.
- Inserting suppository as per need after the sexual intercourse may reduce the chance of a trip to loo during intercourse.
- A lubricant jelly may help alleviate pain during intercourse.
Intimacy is often mistaken with sex, but it is not just sex. One may feel intimate with only cuddling, touching or kissing without sex being involved. Therefore, intimacy can be achieved in many ways based on what seems more comfortable.
Concerns Associated With Inflammatory Bowel Disease
It is alright to have physical relation on the bottom of the priority list because the struggle to get through IBD symptoms may seem too much but there are few approaches that can help the patient feel a little better.
- Getting adequate amount of sleep should be the prime objective. Physical symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease may create a whirlwind of uncontrollable emotions that may prevent the patient to get enough rest. Discussing things with the partner can help relieve the anxiety which in turn promotes mental relaxation and peace of mind.
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may exploit the sexual life as the treatment protocol requires using suppositories and enemas at bed time. Choosing another time for intercourse or being spontaneous during the day time can help in making things better.
- It is important to get out of the low self-esteem zone. Things are never how they really seem. The patient may feel ugly about himself but the partner may be supportive and may think otherwise. Not being judgmental about one’s looks should be the top priority. The patients should dress well and do everything they should to feel better and good about themselves.
- Jedel, S., Hood, M. M., & Keshavarzian, A. (2015). Getting personal: a review of sexual functioning, body image, and their impact on quality of life in IBD patients. Inflammatory bowel diseases, 21(4), 923.