Sexuality – Life after Limb Loss
Sexuality is an important part of who we are. A healthy sex life can affect our wellbeing and quality of life. When talking about sexuality it is important to know it is not just intercourse. It also refers to how we express our feelings and emotions. Expression of feelings and emotions include arousal as well as intercourse. Having an amputation may help you explore new ways to express intimacy. Touching, kissing, and caressing are a few.
Remember to take it slow. Do not rush right back into a sexual relationship. It will take time to adjust. Remember to keep things open with your partner. Be open to new techniques. Remember intercourse does not have to be the goal every time. Discuss what did or did not work for you.
Find out what the issue may be. Issues with sexuality may not be from the amputation alone. Discuss what issues you may have had before the amputation. Take into consideration your medical issues.
Do you have diabetes or blood flow problems? In instances of erectile dysfunction and lubrication issues this may be the underlying cause. Be sure to talk to you doctor about what you can do. There are medicines and lubricants available to help in these issues. Talk to your health care team about what is right for you.
Pain can be very limiting in sexual intimacy. It can cause you to avoid intimacy and intercourse. This can lead to anger and hostility. Pain may be directly related to the amputation, such as phantom pain and residual pain. Talk to your health care team. There are medicines and techniques to reduce or eliminate your pain. Be sure to talk to your partner. Tell your partner what is painful and what feels good. Tell them what they can do to help.
Positions you once used during sexual intimacy may not be comfortable anymore. Due to your amputation you may not be able to perform preferred positions. Explore new positions. Be open and talk to your partner. Let your partner know what is comfortable for you and what is not. Talk to your health care team. Your PT may have ideas to give you on positions during intimacy.
The way we see ourselves is important in all aspects of our lives. It changes throughout our lives. It can affect how we feel about ourselves and how we think others feel about us. A negative body image has been shown to make us less happy with life. It can directly affect how we respond with intimacy and intercourse. Do not label yourself because of your amputation.
- Think of yourself as a whole person who happens to have a missing body part.
- Be creative. Think of ways to enjoy things you did before the amputation.
- Talk to others. Be open with your partner. It may help to talk with your health care team.
- Join a support group. Talk to others who have gone through what you have been through and how they have coped with it.
Reference: First Step: A guide for Adapting to Limb Loss. 2005 Body Image, Relationships and Sexuality after Amputation.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 02/01/2011
Copyright © 02/01/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7108
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