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 1/24/20

My son has an anoxic brain injury. With very little short term memory it is very hard for him to have a relationship with a woman. How can I help him? He wants a family so bad.

on 1/25/20

I don't know an answer but if he finds a woman make sure that she is sensitive, understanding before he gets to a family

on 7/3/20

Hello everyone,

How are you today? 

Does chronic illness have an impact on your romantic or personal life?  How do you manage it?

Tell us all about it!

Take care,

on 7/5/20

A good, or I want to call mine a great sex life has to be some of my best memories I have so far, and I hope that it is something to look forward to for the rest of my life. I'm a widower, and its been 4 +years the last 2 years with my condition. I haven't changed the type or quality of woman that I am looking for. I'm just as picky and only want, what I want.  I have not  so far had any problems caused by my condition which isn't as bad as some on here, but with an ostomy bag it has and is going to be somewhat of a deal breaker for some women I suppose, and I can understand their point. It will not upset me, that does no good, I will just move on and continue looking until I find someone I love, who will deal with me the way I am. This ostomy bag is not the biggest problem that my future lover is going to have to deal with anyway.....lol. If your not having the life you desire, just don't give up, keep trying to get your spouse to work with you, or agree to allow you to outside the marriage for your needs. If single, hit me up....lol   just keep looking, everywhere for someone to complete you, don't give up, no matter what age, you will always want the intimacy, the shoulder to cry on the hand to hold, and someone you can show off to when you have a break through, or do something to make someone else proud of you and your accomlishments. Cuz your gonna have them.

Both the Good and bad is best when shared with a best friend/lover/partner.

on 7/10/20

I'm currently going through chemo for breast cancer, and it's definitely hard. My husband is definitely supportive and wonderful but I can tell he's trying to handle me with kid gloves like he's afraid of hurting me. I'm exhausted and sick all the time from the treatment, and then at the same time I'm afraid he's not going to find me or my body beautiful anymore. Cancer and chronic illness in general is so hard.

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