Sex and Sexuality

Photo of the back of a couple sitting in wooden chairs and holding hands

Talking about sex is hard for many people in general. Surviving a stroke and experiencing sexual dysfunction can add to the uneasiness of the subject. Part of getting back into a normal routine and life involves resuming a healthy sex life. The need to love and be loved, and to have the physical and mental release sex provides, is important.

Having sex after stroke can present problems or concerns for you and your partner. Stroke can change your body and how you feel. Both can affect sexuality. Understanding these terms separately will better help you to understand why these things are happening after a stroke.

Sex

Sex is a basic human drive, like hunger or thirst.

Sexuality

Sexuality is part of being human. Sexuality takes on many forms including sexual feelings and fantasies, sexual values and morals, body image, gender identity, feelings of masculinity and femininity, sexual orientation, self-expression/personal style, and sometimes sexual acts.

Sometimes a stroke disrupts sexual functioning of a person. The good news is it can be short-term. Many of the sexual problems stroke survivors experience are:
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Disability
  • Fears
  • Medication or other medical conditions

Stoke survivors regularly report a decrease in sexual desire and how often they have sexual relations. Women report a strong decrease in vaginal lubrication and the ability to have orgasms. Men often have weak or failed erections and ejaculations. The following are other ways that a stroke affects your relationship:
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Communication skills. Ability to talk and understand what others are saying to you
  • Changes in relationship roles. For example, sometimes partners become caregivers

It is critical to talk openly and honestly about your sexual needs, desires, and concerns. Disability from a stroke is something you and your partner need to learn about, accept, and adapt to.

If you are ready to talk about sex and sexuality after stroke here are some tips to start sex rehabilitation.
  • Think about your partner’s perspective on this matter (if you are in a relationship)
  • Communicate your feelings openly and honestly
  • Focus on what works
  • Improve your self-esteem
  • Talk to you healthcare professional

Sex and Sexuality after stroke are topics often overlooked although they are important for a full recovery. Ask your doctor about changes to expect and how to deal with them. Be open and honest to our partner if in a relationship to establish or continue good communication.