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Sex After Illness: 5 Things You Must Know

How to overcome your physical and emotional fears — and resume lovemaking.

Get yourself in the mood. If your bed has been somewhere you were confined during your illness, go somewhere else that doesn't have the same connotation. Use a different bedroom, go to a friend's house or go somewhere romantic — walk the beach or go see romantic comedies. Do things that will help you relax and enjoy each other with the idea of creating sensual and sexy feelings.

Start with baby steps. You don't have to have intercourse right away. Get back into practice with kissing, stroking each other's bodies and slowly increasing arousal. Talk to each other about your concerns, such as not being able to have an erection or orgasm. Back off a bit if you or your partner is feeling stressed. As long as you don't shelve sex indefinitely, give yourself permission to go slow and just make each other feel good

Find out about current sexual medicine. Men facing sexual complications from prostate medications or surgery should not hesitate to ask their doctor or sex therapist about erectile aids such as Viagra, Levitra or Caelis. If women experience pain during intercourse caused by chemotherapy, a hysterectomy or overectomy, or medication-induced lack of lubrication, they should ask a medical professional about suitable lubricants that will help make penetration smooth and comfortable. If there is no issue about cancer, some women should consider whether an estrogen ring is right for them. Many women find vaginally inserted estrogen immediately rehabilitates thinning vaginal tissues and low levels of lubrication.

It may be startling to feel sexually shy or awkward with a partner of many years post surgery or an impactful illness. The stress and insecurity may be even more magnified if you do not have a steady partner and you are just beginning to date again. In this case, you may need even more courage when you tell the person you are dating about your limits, fears or issues. Still, once you do open up, or resume your sexual life, you may be pleasantly surprised how compassionate and loving people can be. I think most men and women over 50 are old enough to know that bodies are vulnerable and that perfect health will not be ours forever. We can accept this inevitability, but we don't have to extinguish our sexuality in the process. With communication, honesty, innovation and knowledge, our sex lives can always remain a satisfying part of our lives and relationships.

You may also like: Brand new sex with the same old spouse. »

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