Sex and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

October 9, 2007

Kiss Klimpt 

I found that someone had done a google search for “Sex and Chronic Fatigue” and landed on my blog recently.  In my recent research, I haven’t come across any discussions on the matter, so I’ll delve into this tasty topic for a moment or two.  Following is my experience and my advice for those couples where one partner is suffering from this syndrome.

Is having sex possible with a person suffering from Chronic Fatigue, CFS?  Yes. But some considerations are in order.  It helps to understand that CFS sufferers have a daily energy output or allotment.  Once that energy is spent, it’s all over, time for bedrest.  Sex is a high-energy activity and consumes nearly 100 percent of our daily energy.  Very often, I’ll tell my husband he’s getting just a ‘bite-sized’ sex portion, we call it a bite sized snickers bar, meaning that our sexual activity will be delicious but short lived.  It’s not a quickie in terms of attitude, it’s a quickie in terms of how active I can be for him in bed.  Apparently orgasms zap a ton of energy, very enjoyable but it comes with a price.  After sex I need to rest.  It doesn’t always mean a nap, but it definitely means that I’m not going to do the dishes, or laundry that day.

Diminished libido:  CFS patients have reported diminished or non-existent libido.  This is true in my case as well.  It can also be said that I have a diminished capacity for any ‘normal’ activity though too.  This lack of libido and recognition of the energy required, can cause some sense of trepidation or anxiety for the partner with CFS.  I actually have to plan in advance when I can devote the sex energy to my husband and prepare the household the day before, so that no futher demands are placed on me for that day.  While my libido is pretty much non-existent, I do love my husband so much that I want to please him in any way that I can.  I want to give him sex.  Sex makes men happy 🙂  Plus, if I take the energy to give him some good lovin, then my having CFS doesn’t seem to affect him that much and he’s much more capable of tolerating my illness.  

Sex hurts:  This is another important consideration for the partners of CFS sufferers.  Chronic Fatigue is almost always in consort with Fibromyalgia.  CFS sufferers hurt all over, every day, relentlessly.  Everything hurts.  Sometimes for me, being touched hurts.  My muscles fail easily under most tasks and then I have to pay for it the next day.  It doesn’t really matter what sex position we include – they all hurt.  This is why I mention the bite-sized portions of sex above.  A shorter duration of sexual activity lessens the repercussions.  In addition, we make use of pillows, lots & lots of pillows.  We use the pillows to lift my body into different positions so that I don’t have to use the energy to support myself.  The pillows also offer much needed cushioning to my elbows and knees.  Am I getting too detailed?  Is it time to change the channel yet?

Oral Pleasures:  My diminished libido also leads me to offering him oral pleasures instead of my whole body.  This is one of my avenues of making sure that he’s given good attention while saving some of my energy if I’m having a slower day.  This is an excellent substitute – he’s happy, I’m happy, but even this outlay of energy often has its price in terms of my energy allotment.  I still have to rest afterwards, I’m just not a complete zombie.  Turning the table around and offering my secret treasure to him for oral sex is very difficult for me.  Most women typically require advanced bathing techniques to feel comfortable enough for this activity.  So now you’re asking me to bathe and offer my charms, and have sex?  Only on the very best of days do I have enough energy for this.  It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s that afterwards, I feel like I’m dyin.

I hope this post gives partners of CFS sufferers some insight into why when you ask for sex, we roll our eyes & say “Are you out of your ever-lovin mind?”.

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  1. I admire your courage to talk about very important yet tabu issue on your blog.
    I don’t have partner so this is not an issue for me. But I believe that there are many out there feeling trapped because they cannot talk about it openly.

    I hope you don’t mind if I add you on my blogroll.

  2. Thanks Rachel! I couldn’t find anything on the net about it. I haven’t exactly told hubby that I don’t have any desire yet, shhhh! 🙂 I’m thrilled to be on your blogroll. Thanks! Carrie

  3. What you’ve shared is very helpful to me, diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. My once vibrant libido started to wane suddenly 16 years ago, at age 39, then a rapid decline to, sadly, zero libido now for some years. All hormone tests revealed nothing. My husband and I lament the loss of what was once so treasured and lovely. I have found no evident connection between diminished libido and Fibromyalgia, but it sure does seem to be the case with CFS. Thank you for the insight and suggestions! Has anyone explored Upper Cervical (Spinal) Alignment as a CFS/FM remedy?

  4. Thank you for posting this blog about sex & ME/CFS! I’ve noticed no one wants to talk about it in depth either. No, you’re not being too graphic about the pillows/cushions – they are vital equipment – especially the big long ‘body pillows’! I have lost one long marriage already due (a lot) to my near non-existent labido & lovin’ issues. I’m with a new fella who is highly sexed & I feel like a failure because I can’t invest the energy into it that he desires. This is to the point that I have even told him to go find another lover as I care that he is satisfied. Yes, orgasms wipe me out too. It feels life threatening & is sometimes quite frightening! Giving oral or hand relief is also difficult when you have no stamina & it’s very hard for the partner to feel like you’re into them! Oh, blimey – it never rains but pours with this cursed condition! I’m trying some HRT locally applied to try & help with an atrophied vagina (painful for both of us!) & a little testosterone cream to try & wake my labido up. I’m only 42 & I love my partner very much. I enjoy massage & carresssing more than intercourse as it it peaceful & the loves flows in a healing way. My fella seems to be hanging in there, but I’m afraid he will not deal with continual disappointment when I just am not up for it. Thanks again for the op to purge about this delicate matter. I’m sure it’s very common in ME/CFS sufferers. Take care, Kitty.

  5. I admire your desire to please your husband and make him happy, and I know it’s extremely difficult for you. My husband was diagnosed with CFS in 1989, and has been 95-100% bedridden ever since. I mean this poor guy is so extremely weak that he can barely get up from lying on the couch to use the bathroom. If it weren’t for the stereo stand right at the foot of the couch for him to hold onto, he’d definitely fall down onto the floor several times a week, if not more. Our sex life is nonexistent because he is totally incapable of any sexual activity whatsoever. But it doesn’t bother me because I never enjoyed sex anyway due to an inability to respond sexually. Anyway, he used to be able to respond to hand manipulation, but not anymore. He doesn’t even have the ability to have an orgasm anymore. Probably all the medications he’s on don’t help with that either. I’m glad you took the time to try to help people understand a little bit about how difficult it is for so many CFS patients. But something else people also need to realize is that in very severe cases of CFS, such as my husband’s, any kind of sexual activity is totally impossible, and they’re doing good just to make it out of the bed and to the bathroom.

  6. Thanks for posting this. It definitely helps me to understand, as a loving partner to someone with CFS, what’s going on.

  7. thanks for the interesting blog – unfortunately at 25 i am dealing with this very issue with my girlfriend Who has been sick for the last 8 months. As you can imagine this has really been a kick in the guts for two previously active outgoing young people . Anyway just letting you know i appreciate the fact you posted this topic the detail is really important . Means alot to me. Cheers

  8. I am a 22 year old female who was diagnosed with CFS about 6-8 months ago and the loss of my libido has put a strain on my relationship with my boyfriend. He is very supportive and understanding of my CFS but like you said I still want to please him. You’re blog was very inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your story!!

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