Tag Archives: sexuality and health

The Biggest Challenge to My Sex Life (That I Never Told You About)

I’ve been writing about sex in marriage for over seven years, with over 800 posts and three books. I also have a podcast with three other Christian sex bloggers and two Facebook communities. But in all that time, I’ve never told my readers the biggest ongoing challenge to my sex life. What is it?

Blog post title + heart-shaped labyrinth

My husband is a Type 1 diabetic. Has been for 38 years.

For those who don’t know the particulars of Type 1 diabetes, this means his body produces no insulin. Insulin is what breaks food down into sugar energy for the body’s use, so without his own supply, he must regulate the level of sugar in his bloodstream by managing the timing and levels of carbohydrates (sugars), injected insulin, and physical exercise.

How does this affect our sex life?

Too much sugar in the bloodstream, and one’s body and sex drive become lethargic. Too little sugar in the bloodstream, and one becomes anxious and sleepy. Neither condition supports a good, strenuous round of sexercise.

When faced with these circumstances, we have to put off sex until he can re-balance his blood sugar. The postponement could be only a few minutes, later in the day, or the next day. We miss out on spontaneity and frequency as we address his diabetes together.

So when someone writes me about their spouse having a chronic condition that impairs their sexual intimacy, I don’t just have sympathy for their situation — I have empathy.

No, I have never been through a spouse having cancer, or healing from a severe injury, or experiencing any number of other health issues that create obstacles to physical intimacy. But I know what it’s like to work your sex life around the complications of a chronic condition.

I know what it's like to work your sex life around the complications of a chronic condition. Click To Tweet

I know how it feels to wish you didn’t have to deal with that challenge. I know what it is to long that your sexual intimacy could be free of the condition’s constraints.

What advice can I offer, based on our experience? Every situation is different, but here’s how we have handled it so that we still enjoy healthy and satisfying sexual intimacy in our marriage.

1. Maintain health as much as possible.

My husband is a champ about managing his diabetes as much as possible, including diet choices that conform to his condition and regular exercise. I also make sure to help him when and wherever I can.

If you’re the spouse with a chronic condition, there are likely symptoms or consequences you cannot control, but also positive steps you can take to pursue health as much as possible. For the sake of yourself and your marriage, manage what you can. For women, I encourage to follow Calm.Healthy.Sexy., a blog from fellow podcaster Gaye Christmus which provides a lot of practical tips and positive encouragement for taking care of the body God gave you.

If you’re the supporting spouse, ask how you can help. Do you need to eat differently yourself or keep better choices in your pantry and fridge? Would it help to exercise with your spouse or support them in getting physical therapy or a gym membership? Does your spouse need help with ongoing treatments or medications? Please remember you’re married to an adult, but be a positive influence.

2. Adjust your expectations.

Am I disappointed sometimes when we have to forgo lovemaking? Yeah, I am. Maybe we don’t have the sex life we might if diabetes wasn’t the ever-present elephant in the room. But that’s okay — our sexual intimacy is still really awesome.

What expectations do you need to adjust? Is it how many times you’ll make love each week? Is it what counts as a sexual encounter? Is it dropping expectations that a climax will happen every time? Is it adjusting to the length of time it will take to get there?

Take into account the challenges you face with the chronic condition, and then ask what a great sex life will look like with that factor involved. It’s still a great sex life, and there is deep intimacy in taking care of one another as you make decisions together about your health and marriage bed.

3. Encourage one another.

Chronic diseases and conditions invade every aspect of your life and can be awfully discouraging. Which is one reason, among many, we should encourage one another.

And this should extend all the way to how the condition affects our marriage bed. If you’re the chronic condition spouse, encourage your beloved that you still find them attractive and desirable. Make sure they understand that when you struggle or cannot engage, “it’s not you” but the chronic condition getting in the way.

If you’re the supporting spouse, let them know you understand their challenges and you’re willing to coordinate with them for intimacy. Make sure you don’t transfer your discouragement onto your spouse, but rather be a voice of optimism and understanding.

4. Strike while the iron’s hot.

When my husband feels great and wants to have sex, I make an effort to be available. Those aren’t the only times we engage, but when all the train cars line up, so to speak, we want to jump on that engine quickly, before something could send it off track.

For you, this could mean engaging at different times of day, encouraging the chronic condition spouse to initiate when they feel good, helping the supporting spouse find ways to flip their ready-for-sex switch more easily. Perhaps even figure out what tried-and-true warm-up gets you both going, and be willing to use that agenda when opportunity arrives.

This isn’t just “take what you can get.” But rather, make the most of these moments. When they come, be grateful and enjoy your sexual intimacy as thoroughly as possible.

Our sex life would be easier if diabetes wasn’t a factor. But is it possible to create and nurture great physical intimacy despite the difficulties of a chronic condition? Most of the time, it is.

Still, it takes intention, grace, and perseverance. Though, really, those are traits every marriage bed should have anyway.

Is it possible to create and nurture great physical intimacy despite the difficulties of a chronic condition? Most of the time, it is. Click To Tweet

5 New Sex Studies (Including One Which Will Make You Laugh)

I love to peruse the internet for recent studies that involve sex. While God’s Word remains the foundation of my perspective on sexual intimacy, we have learned a lot about His creation and how things work in the bedroom from well-conducted research.

My last stroll through the web for interesting reports yielded five studies I want to share with you. A couple of them have important implications, a couple are simply interesting, and one is guaranteed to make you laugh.

5 New Sex Studies (Including One Which Will Make You Laugh)

Does having sex make men more spiritual?

Duke University researchers tested two groups of men by administering oxytocin to one group and a placebo to the second group. They then surveyed the men regarding feelings of spirituality and discovered that those who took oxytocin were more likely to answer questions about spirituality in positive ways. For instance, they said that “spirituality was important in their lives and that life has meaning and purpose” and agreed more with statements like “There is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people.”

What’s particularly interesting about this study is that oxytocin is a chemical produced by our bodies that has been labeled the “love hormone.” It’s been linked to feelings of bonding, trust, and satisfaction. And it’s released during breastfeeding, prolonged physical contact (like a long embrace or holding hands), and sex. Indeed, at sexual climax, men in committed relationships get a huge rush of oxytocin into their system. The upshot is that having sex may make your husband feel not only connected to you, but to the spiritual realm — and our Heavenly Father. So the next time your husband claims making love with you confirmed that there is a God, he might really be reporting his mountaintop-like experience.

Source: Duke Today: Oxytocin Enhances Spirituality, New Study Says

Is sex bad for his heart, but good for hers?

A federally funded study led by a Michigan State researcher looked at the link between frequency of sex and cardiovascular health. Participants were between 57 and 85 years of age, and information was collected once and again five years later. For those who had sex one or more times a week, men had a higher risk of cardiovascular events (like hypertension, heart attack, etc.), while women had a reduced risk of hypertension. So basically, more sex seemed to be bad for his heart, but good for hers.

But wait… The bigger question is why: Why are men at greater risk for heart conditions just by having more frequent sex? It’s not clear that it’s the sex, because older, sexually active men are also more likely to use medication to boost sexual function and could be straining themselves more to reach an orgasm that isn’t quite as easy to attain as it once was. Maybe the takeaway is that we need to let our sexuality mature with us — take our time, don’t sweat it if the orgasm doesn’t happen, and enjoy the vast array of sexually intimate acts. And if that doesn’t work, I know plenty of husbands who’d simply say: “I don’t care if having sex increases my risk of heart attack, because what a way to go!”

Source: MSU Today — Is Sex in Later Years Good for Your Health?

Should you turn on the lights?

Research conducted by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress studied 38 male participants with disorders characterized by a lack of interest in sex. They gave them half of them light therapy (exposure to light that mimics the sun’s rays and is used with seasonal depression) and half of them exposure to much dimmer light. The men who received bright light therapy showed increased sexual satisfaction three times higher as well as a jump in testosterone production.

Honestly, this matches one of my theories of why more men have lower sex drives these days. I believe that since many men aren’t spending time outside and in manual labor, they aren’t doing things that used to maintain their testosterone levels and decrease their stress. Whether my theory’s true or not, it appears that sunlight or light therapy would be a good idea for men whose libidos aren’t where they, or perhaps their wives, would like them to be. For you higher-drive wives, maybe you could suggest a daily walk or time together outside more days than not.

Source: Popular Science — New Research Shows How Bright Light Could Wake Up Men’s Sexual Desire

Why should college students have all the fun?

Researchers at the University of South Dakota surveyed 706 college students and discovered that having sex in a parked car remains a “fundamental coming-of-age phenomenon.” Sixty percent reported having experienced parked-car sex, and although men reported a higher rate of satisfaction, a strong majority in both genders viewed the experience positively.

Why am I talking about this to married Christians? Because hey, you can do it your car too! Frankly, as you get older, your car is usually bigger and more conducive to having sex without getting jabbed by a gear shift or slammed into the dashboard. You might well own a garage so that maintaining privacy is an easy goal to meet. And you’d probably be surprised how much your body can still bend and move when romance and libido run high. Some of us even own trucks, meaning we have an actual “bed” in our vehicle. Doesn’t that mean we should use it as the word intends?

Source: The Daily Beast — Science Says: Car Sex Is Still a Rite of Passage

Is polyester killing your sex appeal, guys?

Cairo University Professor Ahmed Shafik dressed lab rats in pants of different fabrics, then studied how they affected the rats’ sex drive. He discovered that rats in polyester pants got less action than those wearing cotton or wool — a finding that once-and-for-all confirms the 1970s were the worst fashion decade.

Image result for rat in pants

So throw out your old leisure suits, husbands, because that polyester look is not helping your sex appeal! Go with cotton or wool (or even a mixed blend, I suppose). Although I wonder how those rats would have fared in satin boxer shorts. Do you think they would have become “love machines”? Maybe, maybe not. But you could give it a try.

Source: Polyester pants dampen rats’ sex appeal: Ig Nobel prizes honor weird research

What do you think about these research studies? What surprised you or shed light on your situation?