Challenges of Sex During Illness

This is Part 3 in a series of articles by Carrie about Sex During Illness

Four and a half months ago, I underwent an 8-hour brain surgery to repair a brain aneurysm.  I am thankful to God for the many healthcare professionals whose expertise helped me through the surgery and recovery.  God continues to pour out His grace in my life as I recover from the trauma of brain surgery.  At this time, I have no need for therapy of any kind. I only use medication to help me sleep.  I expect to have weaned myself off of the medication completely by Valentine’s Day!

During these past months, you can imagine what happened to what was previously a very healthy sexual relationship between Jim and I.  Though sex was “put on hold” during the critical time of my illness, we learned that sexual intimacy could be restored! As I think back over my recovery, I recognize there are keys to overcoming medical challenges and renewing sexual intimacy.  Here are tips to use when you are the spouse with an extended medical condition:

  • Be Proactive About Getting Well:  rest, take therapy, use prescribed medication properly, exercise, eat healthy in order to help your body recover and gain strength
  • Do What You Can to Stay Encouraged: pray, read books or listen to podcasts that are motivational and help you have a positive outlook, play music you enjoy and that gives you a sense of well-being
  • Be Cautious About What You Focus On: avoid feelings of self-pity; rather, become more sensitive to the needs of your spouse who is well
  • Be Intentional About Physical Affection: keep kissing, cuddle often, be creative in how you bring your spouse to orgasm if intercourse isn’t a viable option
  • Give Your Marriage the Best of You:  as your strength improves, make sexual intimacy a priority and use your energy for your marriage relationship; realize that shopping or doing housework may sap your energy leaving little strength for sex
  • Keep Saying “I love you”: your spouse is making sacrifices during the time you heal and recover; thank him/her for being understanding, for their support and the personal care they give you; those three little words are powerful in keeping the two of you connected emotionally!


Finally, during those times that do require abstinence from sex, it’s important to increase non-sexual touches and focus on deepening spiritual, intellectual, and emotional intimacy.

This is part 3 of a series of articles on sex and illness.

Read part 1 here.

Read part 2 here.