CF, Sex, and Intimacy

Sex and relationships are essential parts of life. For some people with CF, making the distinction between sexuality and intimacy can be an important step in navigating the ups and downs of having a chronic illness.

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Summary
  • Having cystic fibrosis can complicate relationships in a number of ways.
  • Although sex can be a meaningful expression of feeling close to someone, intimacy can come from a variety of activities, actions, mutual understandings, and methods of support.

CF and Relationships

As with all things in life, a person's situation plays a major role in how they foster and form relationships. Having cystic fibrosis is no exception, and can certainly complicate your relationships in a number of ways. Some men with CF, for example, find that talking to a partner about their infertility can present a wide range of challenges. For others, deciding how or when to broach the subject that they have CF at all might be difficult.

Having CF can be an isolating experience, and there is no one right way to handle these issues. You may find that talking to members of your care team or a therapist, finding online community support or reading up on available resources can help you find answers, relationship strategies and approaches that feel most comfortable for you.

Watch adults with CF and a clinician discuss the importance of being open with your partner about CF and helpful tips for approaching relationships.

Sex vs. Intimacy

“I think everyone with CF is going to naturally have peaks and valleys with physical intimacy to some degree, as it directly correlates to feeling OK and having energy to some degree."
- An adult with CF

Unsurprisingly, the ups and downs of having a chronic illness can affect your sex drive, and you may find that your desire to have sex decreases during times when you feel especially ill. When your health declines, maintaining intimacy with your partner, spouse or significant other without being sexually active can be challenging. During these times, it is important to remember that there is a distinction between sex and intimacy. Although sex can be a meaningful expression of feeling close to someone, intimacy can come from a variety of activities, actions, mutual understandings and methods of support. For example, efforts such as taking on your CF together as a team and keeping the lines of communication open in terms of how your CF makes you feel have been shown to help promote intimacy.

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Topics
Family Planning & Parenting
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