How to reconcile with your intimate life during illness

How to reconcile with your intimate life during illness

En cabinet Céline Lafabrie lève les tabous et les fausses croyances sur la sexualité pendant la maladie. Midi Libre – Sabrina Khenfer

Taboo and often undermined, sexuality is nevertheless a major ally in the face of illness.

In Japan, Kintsugi is the art of repairing a broken object, made of ceramic or porcelain, with gold powder. An ancestral method which sublimates imperfections and multiplies the initial value of things.

"It’s a metaphor that I like to share with the people I see, explains Céline Lafabrie, sex therapist and couples therapist in Mende. Particularly when it comes to dealing with illness and its consequences on the body and mind. Things have been broken, but it is possible to rebuild an intimacy that is perhaps even more beautiful."

An incongruous subject ?

Like every year, October was adorned with its traditional pink hue, for a month dedicated to the fight against breast cancer. "Movember" or Blue November, followed suit to raise awareness of male diseases, particularly prostate cancer. "It’s a very good thing, continues Céline Lafabrie, but unfortunately the subject of intimacy, which is nevertheless important to address in the context of pathologies, is often left aside, as is the case. rsquo;it was superfluous, even incongruous. Far from being optional, desire and pleasure can on the contrary be a very helpful element on the sometimes long path to healing."

Indeed, a fulfilled emotional and intimate life leads to the secretion of endorphins, also called pleasure hormones, which reduce stress and anxiety, and reduce pain. So many factors that can improve general mood and bring out feelings of well-being that are particularly welcome in these difficult times of life.

However, intimacy is often undermined by illness and heavy treatments. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy have physiological effects on the body and genitals, such as vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction. "There is also an impact on self-image due to hair loss, the removal of an organ, the presence of scars, which can lead to not being able to no longer feel desirable or desiring."

Solutions exist

But then, how can we maintain or regain, if we wish, an intimate and sexual life? Individual support from a sexologist or sex therapist can be very helpful. "This can allow you to deconstruct certain limiting beliefs, accept this different body, rebuild a positive self-image, reconnect with your sensuality."

There are different approaches to this: listening to emotions, releasing certain blockages, appropriating knowledge in psychology and sexology… hellip; "Certain professionals, including myself, can also offer, in addition to the work done in sessions, psycho-corporeal exercises to do at home, writing practices, readings, listening to podcasts like "Be born a princess, become a warrior" for women affected by breast cancer."

Other professionals, gynecologists or midwives, andrologists for men, are also of great help in overcoming certain intimate difficulties, particularly physiological ones.

Finally, couples therapy can be very useful during but also after the illness. The questions and apprehensions of partners can indeed be numerous in the face of pain or the apparent vulnerability of the other's body. "A feeling of guilt can sometimes even appear at the idea of ​​no longer recognizing this body, of no longer wanting it in the same way. Such a reaction is completely normal. It takes time for both of you to reclaim it, then to reinvent together the intimacy of the couple, which can be even more beautiful."&nbsp ;This is where the art of Kintsugi comes into its own.

Céline Lafabrie, 11 rue d’Aigues-Passes, Mende. Website:

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