Osteoporosis, sex and brittle bones in the time of Covid-19

One could hardly say that sex has taken a back seat during Covid-19, rather the opposite considering the rise in pregnancies during this time. However, you might be forgiven for thinking: well, that doesn’t affect me because I’ve got osteoporosis – I’m going to spend lockdown polishing up my Spanish or reading a book on particularly canny chess moves.

However, this morbid outlook certainly doesn’t have to affect your sex life. There is no need to give up an enjoyable sex life because of osteoporosis or Covid-19. Not at all. Let’s have a look at what is really possible in the rethink time of the pandemic.

Gathering understanding

Research shows that up to 25% of people over the age of 70 are still actively engaged in fulfilling relationships. There! What do you think of that? While some people might be hesitant to engage in the physicality of sex for fear of causing further damage to an already compromised skeleton, you’d probably be amazed at how tangled up that skeleton can get, and still emerge with nothing more than a slight clank in its step.

Certainly the time of Covid-19 depression and dark thoughts can fester – and engaging in sex may be the last thought on your mind because there are so many troubles for so many people. But it has been proven so many times that remaining positive and active can improve your overall health significantly. And that includes sex. It can relieve stress, improve sleep, release ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain, and enhance the immune system (and we all want that, for sure).

But while we’re getting happy, remember the following pointers with regard to your vulnerable bones:

  • Have a bone density test to evaluate your level of fracture risk. In this way, you can determine which positions will be safest for you. Because a woman’s body requires more positioning during sex than a man’s, it is preferable that she should be on top of the man, consequently, allowing her to control her level of comfort more fully. When the man is on top, this can put pressure on a woman’s hips – a rather dangerous area with regard to diminished bone strength. However, regardless of choice of position, it’s a good idea to consider using cushions and pillows for extra support.
  • The least strenuous positions would entail both partners lying on their sides, facing one another, or the male partner facing his partner’s back in a position called ‘spooning’.
  • And remember, intercourse itself may not necessarily be required to experience the love and pleasure of each other’s bodies; intimacy can be achieved in many other ways, which you should explore with your partner. Both partners need to accept that there will need to be a willingness to define intimacy through new techniques and positions. And, of course, creativity can certainly add to the experience in many ways.
  • Keeping warm is important. Osteoporosis can sensitise you to temperature and add more difficulty to joint movement. Have a warm shower beforehand and keep under an electric blanket if necessary.
  • Above all, be prepared to acknowledge that open discussion is vital to maintaining a happy and fulfilling intimacy. Voicing concerns and preferred precautions can help to effect greater confidence and, therefore, a more relaxed engagement; it can certainly increase the love and intimacy that you share. Rather than worrying about the awkwardness of such a discussion, it is important your partner understands your limitations and what will be safer and more comfortable for you. Honest communication between partners about feelings, challenges and sexual needs is critical.
  • There’s no doubt that stress on bones can cause pain – or even worse, a fracture. Your partner needs to know that while you may not be able to participate as before, there are techniques that can still create satisfying intercourse for both of you. There are great benefits in maintaining a healthy sex life because it can relieve stress by releasing endorphins into the brain that will generally improve overall well-being.
  • And well-being is critical to fighting infection. There’s no harm in making sure that you can withstand the onslaught of this dreadful virus. And staying happy in a fulfilled relationship is probably one of the best ways you can do this!

Love your bones! They stick with you through thick and thin. Don’t make your life less because of them – instead make it more. Make it bold. And make it glorious!

NOFSA (National Osteoporosis Foundation South Africa)

NOFSA is the only non-profit, voluntary health organisation dedicated to promoting lifelong bone health. We focus on reducing the widespread prevalence of Osteoporosis while working to find a cure for the disease, supporting research and developing programmes of education and advocacy.

Find out more about our work at www.osteoporosis.org.za