Saturday, 13 October 2012

Crohnly Wanna Be With You

As a woman with Crohn's, there are a few issues myself and my fellow members if the fairer sex have to contend with. In addition, of course, to the already jam-packed array of symptoms the disease brings with it.
The most obvious difference between men and women being that of our monthly treat, or 'period' for the less squeamish male readers amongst you.
Through talking to several wonderful women with Crohn's, it seems, as Crohn's is completely different from person to person, the affects the disease has on ladies at their time of the month is also interchangeable.
For several women, including myself, symptoms and pain are noticeably more prominent during this time. Spending a lot more time at the loo is a regular occurrence for a few days prior to a period, and the pain of cramping seems to be intensified. Women often also complain of a constant need for the toilet and constipation, which as a Crohn's patient is not something positive. Others complain of their period causing even more bloating than usual, pressure on the gut, and even causing pain from colon to abdomen.
Other than the usual monthly few-day-diet of hot baths, hot water bottles, pain killers, and a vat of chocolate, there are few things to ease this extra pain.
Bit of a bloody nuisance eh?
So, as this special time of the month can often put a dampener on romance and the burning of loins, so can Crohn's Disease.
Some women find that sex on the day before or when in pain can often help ease tension. The theory being that the mind will be distracted from the pain the body feels. This is good, in theory, however for many of the Crohnie's I've spoken to, the issue is more in suffering from the disease and feeling the 'urge' and acting on it.
Obviously everyone is different, but for many women, sex and relationships can be real issues, and often spark worrying and stressful situations. This in turn often induces or exacerbates symptoms, causing a vicious, sexy, circle, difficult to break.
During bad flares, women with Crohn's often have no interest in sexual activity, the idea of anyone coming within an inch of you can be abhorrent when your insides feel like they've gone 10rounds with Mike Tyson.
Some women have gone as far as to say they would need drugs (of the purely medicinal kind obviously) to get in the mood, or that their sex drive has reached a serious pit stop due to living with the disease.
Nerves can be damaged over time due to surgery, medications and treatments, which can cause loss of sensation to all parts of the body.
Wind build up from all the 'activity' can be incredibly painful and sex can often cause abdominal cramping for hours or even days afterwards.
Lack of interest in making sweet, sweet love is saddening enough in itself, however factor into that having another persons feelings to consider, this can be a tricky time.
Relationships can suffer when the disease influences your mood. As with most people, when you are in constant pain, the last thing on your mind is your libido. This can be disheartening for your partner and hard to express without hurting your loved ones feelings. Guilt caused by this lack if interest can quickly escalate and make for an even more difficult situation.
Those not in relationships also say they find it difficult to know when to bring up their condition when meeting someone new. Many often find that the disease leaves them feeling far from sexy and alluring. Crohn's Disease and sexiness don't often go hand in hand.
Personally, I've found I've spent too long in dwelling on how unattractive Crohn's has made me feel. I know my beloved loves me, pre and post disease. I've spent far too long focusing on how bad things MIGHT get or how he, or I MIGHT feel in a month or a years time. I now try to be completely honest with myself and with him about how I feel and what's happening to my body. However 'unattractive' it may be.
There's no reason Crohn's can be 'sexy'. We have to make the most of what we have and use it to the best of our ability. For me that's the amazing strength and determination I've gained in living with this disease. The opportunity it gives me to laugh at myself and to show I am so much more than my disease. Oh, and despite Crohn's I still have a cracking rack.

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