How to Work Around Low Libido and Fibromyalgia Pain

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Loss of libido with fibromyalgia

If you have fibromyalgia, you may also face challenges in your sex life. You could be experiencing loss of libido or having difficulty with sexual performance. It’s also possible your libido is healthy, but the deep muscle pain and stiffness of fibromyalgia keep you from enjoying sex, they way you used to.

It’s not unusual for people with any chronic illness to complain about having problems with their sex life. But a healthy sex life is important for many reasons. Not only does sex strengthen your intimate relationship, but sexual intercourse boost endorphins. Those are the body’s natural opiods that help decrease pain and increase well being. Talking openly with your doctor and following a few practical tips can help you resolve problems associated with fibromyalgia, pain, sex. Then you can begin to enjoy this aspect of your life again.

What causes loss of libido with fibromyalgia?

Some of the medications used in the treatment of fibromyalgia such as duloxetine, (Cymbalta), and milnacipran (Savella), as well as SSRI antidepressants like paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline(Zoloft), may cause reduce sex drive. If you take medicines for fibromyalgia and have problems with libido, talk to your doctor. A simple change of medication or reduction in dose may improve your sex drive and allow you to enjoy your relationship more. But don’t stop or make any changes to your medications unless your doctor tells you to.

Also, for some patients having to deal with uncomfortable symptoms of fibromyalgia, including ongoing pain, fatigue, anxiety and stiffness, is difficult enough without thinking of being physically active with sexual activity. Learning to self-manage these symptoms with medications, exercise, and lifestyle habit may help to boost your sex life.

Can soaking in a warm water bath before sex help my fibromyalgia pain?

Moist heat including soaking in a warm bath, can help ease fibromyalgia pain, and may allow you to enjoy the sexual intercourse or any exercise, without added pain. Heat increases blood flow to the site and decreases stiffness, a key symptom of fibromyalgia. Regular moist heat application or warm baths may help temporarily to elevate muscle pain or tender point pain, reduce muscle spasm and reduce inflammation.

When using moist heat make sure it is not too warm or you can burn your skin. You might soak in a warm bath for at least 15 minutes before sexual intercourse or other physical activity to get the full benefit. You may soak in warm bath after sexual intercourse or other physical activity. Other popular type of moist heat includes a warm shower, warm whirlpool, or hot tub, heated swimming pool and a moist heating pad.

Fibromyalgia and low sex drive

One of the symptoms of fibromyalgia that many people are hesitant or embarrassed to talk about is loss of libido. Decreased sex drive can be caused by multiple factors related to fibromyalgia.

The most obvious connection is that fibromyalgia causes widespread pain, often making movements painful. This is related to more than simply pain in the joints, however. Fibromyalgia can cause irritable bowel syndrome and gastrointestinal pain and the symptoms of IBS, simply aren’t conductive to sexual drive.

How to work around low libido and fibromyalgia pain

If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and are also experiencing a decreased sex drive the best strategy is to address your overall condition.

Fibromyalgia is a big picture that is made of many symptoms that are all interconnected. By treating one symptom, we help ease others. It’s important to work with your doctor to get better diagnosis and figure out the strategy that best treat your symptoms.


Successfully controlling fibromyalgia pain and treating many of its other symptoms often requires medication. These can be a double-edged sword, as pain medications and anti depressants can decrease your libido even as they’re helping your other symptoms. Talk with your doctor about all the different treatments available and their potential side effects.

Compassion and communication

This seems simple, but it’s something that might get lost in the swirl of doctor’s appointments, treatments, down days, and simple trying to live a normal life. It’s of huge importance that people with fibromyalgia be compassionate with themselves.

Imagine what you would say and do if one of your good friends and family members was suffering with this condition. Would you berate them and tell them that they’re not doing something good enough of fast enough?

Would you tell them that they’re a bad parent, bad spouse or that they should simply be able to “suck it up” and get on with life. Shouldn’t you treat yourself just as well as you would treat someone else with this disease? Self-compassion and communication are hugely important in dealing with fibromyalgia.

The second aspect of compassion and communication that is important with fibromyalgia –and specifically issues around low libido—is keeping your partner in the loop.

For support and Discussion join the group “Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Illness”

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Arthritis Foundation: “Fibromyalgia: Treatment Options.”
Baldini, G., Andrade, P., Alqualo-Costa, R, Gallinaro, A., Lage, L. Arthritis and Rheumatism, September 2003.
McIlwain H. and Bruce, D. The Fibromyalgia Handbook, Holt, 2007

“Fibromyalgia and Sex” by WebMD Medical Reference.

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