8 Tips For Owning Your Sexuality When You Live With a Chronic Illness
Living with a chronic illness makes it far too easy to feel like your body is constantly at the disposal of your doctors. Where will you be poked and prodded today, right?
It’s tough to transition from a hospital gown to lingerie, there’s an emotional toll the medical testing and treatments takes on us, and it can be challenging to separate all of that from how we see ourselves, or how others see us. First, I must give you some backstory on my experience, then I’ve got 8 tips for you to own your sexiness and remember that your body is a gorgeous, pleasurable, wonderful piece of enjoyment!
I have Crohn’s disease, which is an autoimmune digestive disease. I have been poked and prodded in all the places, including where the ‘sun don’t shine’. Although, I did recently read an article on how ‘sunning your booty-hole’ could give you health benefits. But be careful, sunburn on that area is very easy, 10 minutes of exposure at most should be sufficient. I, myself, haven’t done it, but it is only March and the warmer, sunnier months are around the corner… I’ll probably try it. Why not?! The only reason I can think of is that our 6ft privacy fence was taken down in the last few months, but hey, it probably won’t stop me! Stay tuned for future booty-hole sunning blog post.
I’ve gotten way off subject here… to get back to the point… I would like to discuss how difficult it is to see oneself as a desirable, sexual being when we are constantly seen as the opposite in our medicine-filled lives.
I first encountered this feeling when I was getting Ozone enemas in 2016. I was seeing a naturopath in Missoula, MT who practiced Ozone therapy, she advised I tried Ozone enemas- a tiny tube would be placed up my anus and little bits of pure O2 would be periodically blown up my butt to cleanse the cells and essentially help them heal themselves. *I will be going into further detail on this treatment, effects etc in a later post*
Anyway, three times a week for months, I went into the office, took my pants down, laid face down on the table, with my hips over a cushion to bring my beautiful booty into the air, and the doctor would come in, open my cheeks and slide a little tube into my rectum and then I would feel like bursts of air enter me over 10-20 minutes, then they would take the tube out, and I would stay there for a bit so it didn’t all blow back out, and then I could pull my pants up and go on my way. Really effective in NOT making me feel like a sex machine.
It was actually quite painful to be honest, I had fissures on my anus which made the tube insertion very painful, and I think my booty didn’t like how often things were going into it for so many months.
During this time, I was also using Ozone coconut oil suppositories to help heal the fissures and revitalize the cells in my rectum. They were painful too, and again, something I had to insert up into a place that liked things to only come out of.
The one thing I did like putting up there were Valium suppositories. Those were nice! They were effective in calming down my rectal spasms and settled my entire pelvis. Totally worth the things going up part of the equation.
Then, because of the fissures and various other Crohn’s symptoms, I periodically had a doctor’s finger up there, or speculum, or camera of course.
During these months, I was also having a lot of ovarian cysts bursting and rupturing, causing me to have to make frequent visits to the ER and getting many internal ultrasounds. So, again, foreign objects going up in places. Although, I admit- this place much prefered things going in than things coming out! But in this case, this foreign object wasn’t fun at all.
Throw on top of that the constant IV’s, blood draws, swabs, abdominal pressing, hospital gowns, hospital stays, tubes being shoved up the nose… all the things… it’s a wonder anyone could feel desirable and sexual ever again!
But that is why I am writing this today… because I did, I did overcome those feelings and feel like a gorgeous, sexy woman every day (almost).
This is a good time to add that I was married at the time, during all of this… although, my (ex)husband and I didn’t have much of a sex life for the last several years of our marriage. And my illness was part of that, on my part as well as his, I believe.
I had a very hard time seeing myself as sexual or desirable, how could I when I was curled up on the sofa all the time in a robe hugging a hot water bottle?
I was struggling with separating my identity of who I was without my illness. And I think that had a ripple effect on my (ex)husband.
The way I saw it at the time was, 'How could I expect him to see me as desirable when I can’t see myself that way?'
I started working on my self confidence, I did body confidence challenges, I looked at myself in the mirror naked, a lot. I took provocative photos of myself, for noone but me. I found ways to enjoy pleasure on my own, to know that I still could. I bought myself sexy panties and bras, and nightwear… comfy, feminine things that made me feel pretty and confident. I found Instagram accounts preaching body positivity, I read books, I listened to podcasts, I talked with my girlfriends about it. I made an effort getting dressed each day. I was doing Pilates and noticed my muscles changing, my booty lifting, my arms toning, I spent time in the sunshine. I did what made me happy. I immersed myself in self-love.
My (ex)husband would be gone for work extremely often, for months at a time and only home for 48hrs or so… I took one of those opportunities to really focus on myself and spend a lot of time dedicated to rebuilding my self-confidence and self-esteem while he was away, and be ready to approach him when he got home to get it on and have some fun.
I got myself all pumped up, sent some flirty texts, did my hair and makeup, and put on one of my sexy outfits that made me feel good and waited for him to come home that night. I was not my illness, I was a beautiful woman!
Cut to the end of that night, and me in bed, alone and feeling foolish.
Now, rejection can be an awful, awful thing that is extremely hard to bounce back from, I don’t care what anyone says about it being “self” esteem, that shit is hard to bounce back from! And I became a pro at it.
I won’t go into further detail right now about the ins and outs of marriage and such… but what I wanted to share was this: I had put all the work in, and I felt good, and I was trying to let go of ‘feeling’ or ‘looking’ broken because of my illness, but he wasn’t there yet.
And sometimes, that is just the case with your loved ones. And you need to stay on your journey, for you. For your sake.
Our marriage ended a year or so after that weekend and I had to start all over again on the self-confidence train.
I was determined that I was desirable, wanted and sexual and I wouldn’t let anyone see me as anything less!
I admit that I didn’t tell all my partners about my illness, not at first at least, and maybe not at all. Which I don’t think was the healthiest choice either... It ended up reaffirming my thoughts that someone couldn’t see me as desirable and sexual with my illness.
When I realized I was keeping my insecurities guarded behind closed doors, not letting the possibility of rejection even be a possibility, I decided I wasn’t giving anyone a chance to even like all of me, let alone want all of me. It was important for me to share this part of my life, this part of my body.
I also have to admit that I had great feedback from the couple of partners I told, they didn’t see me differently, they weren’t turned off, the opposite actually… I was told I was strong, confident and attractive.
I would suggest that you do what’s right for you. Follow your instincts. And remember to give humanity a chance, find people to surround yourself with that make you feel special and beautiful.
And above all, see YOURSELF as the BABE THAT YOU ARE!
Here are a few of my favorite tips for owning your sexuality when you live with a chronic illness.
You can experience pleasure in places that you have only experienced chronic pain. I cried the first time this happened but it was a very powerful moment for me that I will never forget. Open yourself to the possibility that pleasure is allowed and can be extremely healing.
The body is just a body. We all have one and it needs to do certain things in order to survive. Everyone poops, some more than others. That doesn’t make you icky!! You’re a babe!
Don’t get dressed as soon as you get out of the shower. Pause for a moment, be naked for a bit. We aren’t naked enough. Feel comfortable being naked. Being naked is so much fun!! Look at yourself, you're beautiful. Legs are just legs. Breasts are just breasts. A penis is just a penis. Earlobes are just earlobes. We’re not that different from one another.
If you had medical stuff done all day, maybe give your body a chance to rest from the trauma, then go ahead and get yourself off, or call your fave orgasm buddy and have some enjoyment together! (Only if your body feels up for it, listen to your body! Slow and gentle is super fun people!)
Go put on a push-up bra every once in a while to remember that you’ve got great breasts, do it for you. Sexy undies are worth every penny! Do it FOR YOU!
If you want to rock those jeans to feel sassy with your stunning booty while you’re walking out of the hospital after just having a speculum up your ass, go for it hunny!
We are all walking around with insecurities, every single one of us, whoever you allow to be with you has insecurities, don’t let yours stop you from delighting in pleasure and delighting in the world.
Our bodies are meant to be enjoyed. Endorphins are healing!