Osteoporosis and Sexual Intercourse: Is it safe?

Many studies indicate that age has little to do with the capability of having a healthy and satisfactory sex life. Research shows that up to 25% of people over the age of 70 are still actively engaged in fulfilling relationships. However, there are those who – once diagnosed with Osteoporosis – may become hesitant to continue with physical intimacy, fearing they may create further damage. Happily, the facts prove the opposite! There is no need to give up an enjoyable sex life because of Osteoporosis.

Being diagnosed with Osteoporosis can leave one feeling suddenly fragile. You’re aware that the unseen structure that you’ve taken for granted all your life is now in need of delicate care and utmost consideration. It’s the kind of thinking that can slow you down, often more than the condition really requires – and you may even feel obliged to nervously review all physical exercise, including a healthy sex life.

However, with sensible care and a positive outlook, much as possible, including the ability to still maintain an interesting life in the bedroom. While swinging from the chandelier or nifty footwork in the shower is not advised, there is no reason you cannot enjoy a healthy sex life as before, but perhaps with a few added precautions.

Remaining Positive and Active

A healthy sex life can improve overall health by relieving stress, improving sleep, enhancing the body’s immunity, as well as releasing ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain. However, you will still need to know exactly where your vulnerabilities lie – perhaps in the spine or hip joints – in order to avoid any positions that may cause pressure and lead to injury.

Here are some useful pointers to bear in mind:

  • Bone loss can range from simple deficiency of bone to severe density loss that may lead to multiple fractures. Therefore, it’s important to have regular tests 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. Bringing a creaking stiffness to the process is hardly exciting, so, 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.

Communication – The key to getting Things Right

The key to alleviating much of the fear due to your condition is to have an honest discussion with your partner. 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 that 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.
  • Firstly, you need to know the severity of your Osteoporosis. 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.
  • Both you and your partner need to understand that, with a few adjustments, a fulfilling love life is still more than possible.

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

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