Intimacy, Sex, and HS

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: December 2020

Research has shown that impaired intimacy and sex decreases the overall quality of life for those with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). The physical symptoms of HS, coupled with the mental distress or depression, can greatly impair sexual relations for those with HS.1

A diagnosis of HS does not mean the end to your intimacy or sexual relationships. You may need to change up your approach or routine and try new things. Use these tips to help you and your partner maintain and perhaps improve your intimacy despite your HS diagnosis.

Intimacy can be more than intercourse

Having an intimate relationship allows you to experience intimacy and pleasure beyond just intercourse. If your sexual relationship has changed, having an open and honest conversation with your partner is best. Talk with your partner about what is working and what is not working, as well as limitations you may have due to your HS symptoms.

Do your best not to judge your partner or get offended by the words your partner says in love and trust. Talking openly with them can allow you both to be closer without intercourse.

Ways to enjoy sex when you have HS

Receiving a diagnosis of HS does not mean the end of your sexual experience or intimacy. Listen to your body and the symptoms you are currently experiencing. In addition, these tips may be helpful:1

  • Manage your symptoms. You will be more inclined to enjoy your intimate partner and sexuality if your HS symptoms are well managed. This may not be easy at all times and may require planning on your part. Developing a routine to control your symptoms and pain will help you get in the mood for intimacy.
  • Do your best to stay active. Staying active helps to keep you feeling your best and can significantly improve your mood. You may have to find what activity works best for you to stay active. Strenuous, high-impact exercise may worsen HS symptoms. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or yoga may provide you with the exercise you need.
  • Experiment with different positions. Depending on your symptoms and how you feel, you may need to experiment with different sexual positions with your partner. Pain and limited mobility may limit you from your routine, but new positions may be the fun and excitement you and your partner desire.
  • Set the mood. A warm bath, candles, music, and fragrance may help you set the mood for intimate relations and intercourse. If you feel more comfortable with the lights dimmed, turn the lights low and set the mood that makes you feel at your best.
  • Be creative. Intimacy can mean many things. Touch and massage, toys, and other techniques and devices can help you and your partner enjoy a pleasurable and satisfying sexual relationship.

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