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No Sex after Stroke

By:
Peggy Elam

Question :

My boyfriend of eight years had a stroke about a year ago, and since then he has not wanted sex in any way, shape or form. We had a good sex life before this happened. He is on medication and is in good shape, and his doctor has told him he can have a sexual relationship once again. He still has not touched me at all. I feel that this will end our relationship if something is not done soon. I have already started to think about men to turn to for sex. What can I do? I do love him.

D.L.

Answer :

Your situation brings several questions to mind. For instance, you say your boyfriend has not wanted sex or engaged in it since his stroke, but is that because he has no sex drive now at all, or does he have some sexual feelings but is reluctant to act upon them? Does he have any fears of having sex again -- such as fear that it might cause another stroke? Is he on any medications whose possible side effects include lowered libido (sex drive)? (Many newer antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, are known to frequently have side effects of sexual dysfunction.)

Regardless of the answers to the above questions, I recommend talking frankly with your boyfriend about your need to have a sexual dimension to your relationship. You might consider couples counseling -- working with a psychologist, social worker, counselor, or marriage and family therapist who has expertise in rehabilitation from stroke and traumatic brain injury. It might also be helpful to talk with your boyfriend's doctor (with his permission, of course) about whether the stroke could have affected his sexual drive or functioning.

You and he may also benefit from getting a better idea of the course of recovery from strokes such as the one he experienced. A year is not actually that long when you're talking about recovery from a debilitating stroke. Again, a psychologist (or neuropsychologist) with rehabilitation expertise might be a good resource for information, support and guidance. Your boyfriend's physician may be able to recommend one, or there should be one affiliated with or recommended by the hospital in which your boyfriend was treated.

 

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