Love life in the face of illness: how to cope?

Published Feb 14, 2019 • By Louise Bollecker

Love life in the face of illness: how to cope?

Today is Valentine's Day! This emblematic day, sometimes criticized for its commercial and marketing impact, undoubtedly evokes emotions and love. We organized a poll* to allow you to express your views on this subject. Does a chronicall illness affect romantic life? Does caring for a loved one also have an impact? Here are your answers.



Maintaining an intimate and sexual life: a challenge for 31.2% of respondents

The question "as a patient or family member, what impact does the disease have on your love life", a majority of participants answered that their intimate and sexual life is difficult. There are many reasons for this: decreased libido due to fatigue, erectile dysfunction, localized pain, etc.

Having a chronic illness can severely disrupt intimate relationships,; loved ones and relatives of individuals with a chronic illness may experience psychological or even physical exhaustion too.

>> Join our discussion group on Men's Health

For individuals who are not in a romantic relationship, being diagnosed with a chronic condition can also hinder meeting someone. Our large isolation survey revealed that 57% of patients had reduced their outings and social activities. Therefor, opportunities to meet new people are more limited. In addition, 88% of respondents reported an impact of isolation on their intimate life and 98% on their social life.

Relationships with partners are more difficult for 21.5% of respondents

For 21.5% of individuals diagnosed with a chronic condition and relatives, the survery revealed that relationships with their partners became more complicated due to the disease. Patients may suffer from their spouse's misunderstanding or no longer have enough energy to devote time and attention to them.

Only 9.3% of participants were lucky enough to see their relationship strengthened as a result of living with a chronic condition. Many couples separate after a chronic illness diagnosis; moreover, a recent study showed that a woman is six times more likely to experience a separation after being diagnosed with cancer or multiple sclerosis than a man in the same situation. 

Remaining alone, the solution for 18.3% of respondents

"I want to be alone partly because of the disease" is the answer given by 18.3% of respondents to our survey. Scars, weight gain, weight loss, or medical equipment can lead to one developing a poor self-image. Difficulties in maintaining a "normal couple's life" or fear of rejection can discourage people to attempt to date.

>> Join our group on pain treatment and find solutions

What can I do to find a fulfilling love life?

Health professionals recommend that, first and foremost, discussing such issues and concerns with your significant other should. Communication is the tool that, in many cases, allows you to resolve issues, conflicts, and concerns. Everyone, at their own pace, without being feeling forced, will be able to relearn how to have a dialogue with their partner.

If you do not have a significant other, remember that you are not defined by your condition. You maintain all the remarkable qualities you had before the diagnosis or became a caregiver for a sick relative. Love can take many forms, whether your illness is disabling or not.

Symptoms of disease that impact a intimacy should also be treated as soon as possible. Neurological, cardiovascular, physical, or psychological symptoms can affect intimacy, as can the side effects of a drug. Talk to your doctor about treatments and methods that can reduce fatigue, pain, and improve morale.

You can also consult with:

- A psychologist, who can help you in the journey to resolve / overcome life and romantic concerns and issues, as well as acceptance of your diagnosis or that of a loved one.
- A sexologist, who can assit you in all aspects of romantic relationships, physical and emotional.
- A gynaecologist, who treats disorders of the female genital system, such helping reduce pain or various discomforts
- A urologist, who is responsible for the male urogenital system and can treat male sexual disorders and pains.


Has your relationship and/or intimacy faced difficulty or been adversely affected by your condition or that of a loved one? Opening up and talking about it is progress and a productive move toward resolution and/or understanding, whatever it may be.

Have you treated any specific symptoms?


avatar Louise Bollecker

Author: Louise Bollecker, Community Manager France

Community Manager of Carenity in France, Louise is also editor-in-chief of the Health Magazine to provide articles, videos and testimonials that focus on patients' experiences and making their voices heard. With a... >> Learn more


on 2/19/19


Thank you.

Cienna R.

on 11/7/19

I will also have to had say since they had diagnosed me thyroid cancer trigemianl neurologia I really don't have the sex drive that I used to. It's not easy for neithr on of us. I try and do my best, but my best isn't enough. Does my husband still love me (YES) he does...Does this mean that I love him any less no...There are many ways to help your spouse through the rough time or should I say haul...I believe that if when I have a good day I will make sure I please him as one. But yet again, it's not easy nor anyone would say that it would be.. With all that I have been through our relationship, has gotten stronger..My heart goes out to all of you. I try too make the best of the best, do i wonder in what is going through his mind yes I do. But I'm not scared to sit down and start have a nice conversation, so I can ask him in what his thought's are. I try my best too make my relationship and my love life like it was back in th day..Back in the day with not having all this againest me. I was 18 where we could go all day nonstop..Now with everything going on at 52 I really can't say that. He is lucky too get it once a month. I do feel for you....

on 11/12/19

@ I am so sorry you have to deal with all of this.  I have MS not cancer, but am dealing with the same issues.  i do it all around the household as well as managing appointments. the fatigue, stress, nerve pain are all overwhelming at times. after working a 8 hr day, i come home, do chores then hit the pillow and im out. he is upset that we arent intimate. communication is not his strong point and he defintely wont go to counseling. i have tried to share brochures so he is informed about what i am going through, but nothing improves. i focus on my kids and weed out his negativity. he generally has nothing positive to say or contribute. he is tough on our kids and doesnt understand normal teenage stuff. lol. what guy would right?  anyway - just wanted to say you arent alone. many of us moms are dealing with the same home life. it doesnt excuse it or make it ok but maybe to know there are others out there to vent to helps a bit. hope you have a day with some positivity and lots of love. xo

on 12/12/19

This can be a particular sensitive topic. For guys, not being able to perform sexually like before can take a real hit on our self-esteem and cause us to act out - depression, drinking, bad temper etc. Fortunately I have someone in my life who is very understanding and never made me feel judged. It's really important.

on 1/9/20

Yes, prostate cancer is a life changing event sexual wise, if you do get an erection you are afraid of "leakage". I have a good life partner, understanding etc but it is still not being able to do the way we used to is very difficult.

You will also like

Chronic fatigue: patients' experiences and solutions

Chronic fatigue: patients' experiences and solutions

Read the article
Vaccines: Unravelling the true from the false

Vaccines: Unravelling the true from the false

Read the article
Cigarettes VS e-cigarettes: an update on the consumption and pitfalls to avoid

Cigarettes VS e-cigarettes: an update on the consumption and pitfalls to avoid

Read the article
8 Migraine Triggers

8 Migraine Triggers

Read the article