Don’t let common back pain ruin your conjugal life

“I have taken to traveling and not stay at home just to avoid conjugal encounter with my wife because of the pain I get after that in my back.”

Charles Ehirim

I have several times declined to write on back pain as it links to sex. I have written on the linkage, using likely synonyms, such as conjugal obligation in place of sex. Morally speaking, I have once thought that the discussion is somehow odd or immoral. But as more and more patients confront me with sexuality problems linked to their back pain complaints, I feel compelled to incisively educate them on how back pain could seriously interfere with the exercise.

When it comes to sex life, low back pain can have serious impact. You may start avoiding bedroom encounters for fear of triggering more pain, and if your partner gets no explanation for your seeming loss of interest, your relationship may become strained too.

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“I have taken to traveling and not stay at home just to avoid conjugal encounter with my wife because of the pain I get after that in my back. When I am at home with my wife I feign sickness. My back pain is such that any little stress or activity that involves the back, I will be gone. I will now be on my drugs for several weeks until the pain subsides, if at all. It is terrible experience. I pity my wife because she will not understand what I am passing through, silently. I had once suggested to my wife to go to her parents for a while in good faith so as to enable me seek solution to my sickness. She thought I was insane.”

This was the narration of Dr. Oroghelogho of a federal parastatals in Abuja during
a two-day free intervention physiotherapy care exercise held at Omega Physiotherapy & Back Pain Care Clinic, in Kubwa under the auspices of Back Pain Care Foundation and Ben 200 Foundation, Abuja last April. The two days exercise revealed grossly the menace the monster has dealt with the residence of the federal capital city. Most of them are civil servants, who are majorly sedentary. They have really paid dearly with their back becoming seriously sick.

“Shortly after my master’s degree, I got a job with the Federal Ministry of Finance and was bubbling with life. Five years later, I got married. My wide and I loved each other so much and had our first baby girl. Insidiously, back pain crept into my life and threw my love life into the dustbin. My conjugal relationship became completely shattered. My wife that used to be reserved and not the talking type would nag and call me all sorts of names. Most of the time I would avoid her because I know I wouldn’t perform. Of course, she would predict it. I was always sad and withdrawn.

“For three years I have written that aspect of my life off, at 44 years. I have been to notable hospitals in Abuja, but to no avail. I left everything to fate. My erectile organ is completely out of function since my back pain started tormented me. The doctors thought I had diabetes or any other circulatory disease. Behold all these were negative when I was subjected to series of tests and examinations. Surprisingly, my doctors never linked my challenge to the annoying back pain. All they advised me was that I should take my mind off the pain and meet my wife. How can that be possible when the pain seem to tear my back and my erectile organ is a complete failure?”

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To cut whole story short, the young man, Mr. Igodokhei, attended the free intervention exercise in Kubwa, and would continue the treatment for about three weeks in order to get the enduring relief to get the function of the organs and back structures restored.

Reason I chose the above topic was that the greater number that attended the free treatment exercise had problem with their sexual prowess compromised because of back pain issue, which they knew little or nothing about the cause. Chronic back pain is serious issue, especially when it interferes with your erectile organ. Because men are, by nature, extrovert and would not keep a problem of such to themselves, some would shout, even cry and go about complaining of their imperfection. In my practice also as physiotherapist, I have come across many young mothers who are experiencing frigidity as a result of back complaint. Because women are introverts when such issues are raised, even at consultation, they hardly raise issue of frigidity. Instead a skilled physiotherapist would be able to identify that the nerve to this important organ is impinged. Besides, impingement on the nerves of the back can cause a range of other serious issues such as urinary incontinence, difficulty urinating, fecal incontinence, and numbness around the genitals, numbness around anus, numbness around the buttocks.

I had advised at a seminars held for Catholic Women Organisations (CWO) at Our Lady of Chaplaincy (CIWA), Rumuibekwe, Port Harcourt, that people with chronic back pain should bring sexual problems into the open, with their partners and with an understanding therapist/doctor who can help.

Sexual trouble related to back pain is probably more common than physicians think and for patients to admit to it is still a bit of a taboo subject. As a consultant physiotherapist, I discuss the issue routinely with couples, who are my patients. While a few patients will volunteer that back pain interferes with sexual intimacy, most won’t broach the subject. I think that there’s a lot of embarrassment about it. In the best of my knowledge many are relieved to be able to finally talk about it.

Those with sexual problems related to chronic back pain often have disk disease or arthritis in the spine, but patients who are recovering from back surgery may also struggle. In my opinion no type of chronic back pain rules out having an active sex life. Talk openly with your partner.

As for back pain and sex difficulties between partners, it is something that is really important to discuss. Over the years, my patients have confided that they are reluctant to tell their partners that they cannot have sex because it hurts too much or that they want to change long-standing sexual positions to ease the pain. Chronic back pain can also lead to moodiness or depression. Really, when you are depressed, it is hard to perform.

When a couple starts having less sex without any discussion, not only the relationship, but also a sense of trust erodes. Some of my patients who failed to explain that back pain caused his loss of interest discovered to their dismay that their partner suspected him of having extra-marital affair.

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