Hello! As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am really going to make it a goal to target one sexual health issue a day. This does not mean I will not post about anything else, but I want to bring light to those areas that we face with TBI- those areas that are not commonly discussed. This week the subject is sex, and today's topic is none other than desire.
First off, let me define desire in the manner which I will be using it. Desire the is the want to have sex- the mental aspect; the psychological part of wanting sex. Desire is not the physical aspect- that is arousal.
Desire can occur from across a crowded room, or without even physically seeing the person you want to have sex with. For men and women, desire can occur differently; however, both can be affected after TBI.
There are two common issues with desire that can occur after TBI. They are increased desire or decreased desire to want to engage in sexual activity. If you think about it, a TBI is an injury to the brain- the LARGEST sexual organ any of us have- it makes sense that the psychological part of our sexuality is affected. There are different signs that this portion of your sexual well-being is affected. You could desire to have more sex, and even inappropriately display this desire. Or, you could do the opposite, and not want to have any part of it. There is, of course, area in between also.
For me, I think the worst is wanting the desire, but it not being there. Does that make sense? Situations where you knew that you would previously have desired to have sex, but, for some unknown reason, you don't even want to think about it? The desire is just not there.
In my research, the general consensus is that this, like all sexual health issues, can have a plethora of reasons "why". These can be hormonal, physiological changes to the brain, our own self-perspective, or even the medications we are on to treat the different TBI side- effects. Unfortunately, regardless of the reason why, we can feel just as bad about it, and it can impact our partners significantly.
There are a few things that you can do to help yourself out. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to talk to your doctor. There are some issues that can be solved with adjustments to your medication, or there could be other underlying problems. Also, talk with your partner. Let him/her know what is going on. If they are supportive of you, they will understand, and will support you through the process of getting yourself where you want to be. It will also help them to understand that the issue is not them- which will help your communication and inevitably your relationship.
Most of all- please know that you are not alone. Though it is not commonly talked about- it is an issue that most people experience at some time or another, even without TBI. I know, it can feel like just another issue to have to deal with in addition to everything else. Sexual health is very important to your overall well-being. It is important that it be acknowledged; please do not ignore it.
Ok- I am going to talk about a subject that a lot of people don't like to talk about; or they do not know where to start. Sex. That's right, sex. Ok. I'm not going to be writing any "50 Shades of Grey" type of blog, but I want to address it, as it is an issue that affects people with TBI. Yes, including myself. Sex changes after TBI.
TBI affects sexual functioning in different ways. It can affect arousal, desire, ability to climax, and even reproduction- in males and females. This is not something we usually discuss. Definitely not something I usually write about. I know that I have not really talked about the impact my TBI has had on this part of my life until recently, when I talked about it with my counselor. I want to reiterate that I am not a medical professional, but I do like research, and I want to share some of it here. Recently, I started as a consultant with a company that specializes in sexual health. The training I have received, compounded with previous training I have had, has been enlightening. Additionally, it has encouraged me to research further. Due to this further research, I would like to share the information with you. Not from the perspective of a doctor or other medical professional, but from the perspective of someone who is surviving a TBI.
This week, I will address different sub-topics regarding the impact TBI has on sex and sexuality, including the functions mentioned above, and maybe some ways to overcome them, should you suffer from them. There are great resources out there, but some of them are hard to sift through in order to find what you are looking for. Logic says that when the largest sexual organ a person has, the brain, is injured, there are bound to be side effects. The key is being able to recognize them so that you can work through them, or learn how to accept them.
Topic number one is Desire. Starts tomorrow, so please follow! Also, please let me know if there are any issues you would like to see addressed or incorporated. I will research to see what I can find out, or I can give you my perspective.
Be the reason someone chose not to give-up.
Photo credit to https://beacon.wharton.upenn.edu/entrepreneurship/2014/11/scale-your-mindset/