POC Woman maintaining her sex life with HS flares using alternative tools rather than traditional sex

Sex & HS: How To Navigate The Bedroom Around Your Flares

There is nothing that irritates me more than being in the mood only to remember that I’ve got a monster of a lesion between my legs, which can make sex…er, less than sexy. Pain, pus, blood... I’ve had lesions break open during intercourse before, and it was NOT PLEASANT. But don’t despair! I’ve had HS since I became sexually active, and I’ve found a multitude of ways to still have a healthy, active sex life in and around my flares.

It’s not just about intercourse

There are a ton of ways to engage in intimate activities with a partner or by yourself that don’t include penetrative intercourse. Roleplaying, reading erotic fiction, naked snuggling, and soft sensation play are just a few great ways to create a pleasurable moment that won’t put pressure on sore areas. Experimenting with various sexually charged activities could lead you to a whole new path of luscious self-discovery!

Communication is key

If you aren’t comfortable communicating with your partner what your needs are, they probably shouldn’t be a sexual partner! You should always feel safe telling your partner that something hurts, or that you need to stop an activity that you previously agreed to. You should also work on getting comfortable with expressing when something feels good and making note of that. I’ve come across some surprising erogenous zones that I wouldn’t have expected by experimenting and getting creative!

On that note, get creative!

Being intimate with someone doesn’t have to include any ‘sexual’ activity at all and can still bring you closer with a partner. Feeding each other, taking a shower or bath together, dressing and undressing each other, or brushing one another’s hair can all feel incredibly intimate.

One of my favorite ways to be intimate with my partner is to use washable paint and use our bodies as the canvas- the feeling of the brush can be electrifying! Just make sure to avoid open wounds or flares when using any topical products.

Make sure your products aren’t causing more flares

Synthetic lubes with parabens cause me to flare faster than if I slathered myself in tomato paste and latex condoms made my flares and genitals burn like an inferno! Once I figured this out and changed the products I was using, not only was sex much more comfortable but I started to flare less in general.

There are lots of other more natural products you can try that might make things easier for you. Make sure you speak with whoever you see for your sexual health needs before experimenting with anything you’re going to use internally, as there are a lot of misleading claims out there about certain household products being safe to use as a lubricant when they are most definitely NOT.

Explore the world of toys

There are a ton of sex toys on the market that offer a wide range of play capabilities. Figuring out what sensations make you feel good is so empowering and can offer you a whole new world of experiences. I’ve found that going into a physical sex shop and speaking with an employee about the different toys and the sensations they offer to be most helpful, but in this post-pandemic world, reading reviews and watching demonstration videos is a huge help! Websites like LoveHoney.com include video reviews and demonstrations for all their products and have great return policies in case something doesn’t work out for you!

These are just a few places to start when it comes to exploring your sexuality while balancing hidradenitis suppurativa. If it's financially accessible and comfortable to you, working with a sex therapist, gynecologist, or your GP/PCP can also help you figure out healthy ways to engage in sexual activity without putting any stress on current flares or causing any new ones. The important thing is to be open and honest about your wants and needs with your partner, and, of course, to enjoy yourself! 😉

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