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The Rollin' RN's

LOVE Is Friendship Set To Music

We welcome the month of February with a feature about love and the wholesome benefits involved with living life in LOVE. We have both experienced many years in a loving relationship with our spouses, both before injury and after. So, we’d like to share some of those positive benefits that can come from a healthy, loving, giving relationship and discuss what it takes to create a loving life together when a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) establishes a threesome. Love and being in love really are a friendship set to magnificent music.

In several of our SCI FB groups, the questions arise about sex after an injury. Sex is defined as sexual activity, including specifically sexual intercourse. But does the act of intercourse alone establish a loving relationship? Hmmmm, something to think about…

Introduce intimacy and the importance of it.

Intimacy is defined as a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person. Sex vs. Intimacy. Both topics are beneficial for a healthy life. The advantageous benefits of intimacy:

  1. Deeper connection with your partner: Frequent affection improves your connection with your partner and makes you feel fulfilled. When you’re intimate, chemicals like oxytocin are released that make you feel closer to your significant other.

  2. Boosts mood and sense of well-being: Sexual intimacy is a form of exercise, and causes the body to release feel-good hormones such as serotonin, making you feel happy and energetic.

  3. Reduces stress: Any form of physical activity, sexual intimacy included, reduces stress by burning through the stress hormone cortisol, which causes unwanted belly fat and anxiety. Physical intimacy gets your heart rate up and utilizes all the large muscle groups. Sexual activity does not only include the act of intercourse and orgasm, sexual activity can include many other methods of intimacy and closeness to reduce stress. Be creative and have fun.

  4. Reduces overeating and/or under-eating: A loving partnership can reduce the need to overeat, or the tendency to under eat – whichever way you lean when you’re not taking care of yourself. Nourishment through love and intimacy balances the body so that you crave the food and drink your body physically needs – not more or less.

  5. Encourages growth of brain cells: Studies have shown that sexual intimacy leads to growth of new brain cells, improving your confidence and ability to voice your needs, from the bedroom to the boardroom.

  6. Improves sleep: Sexual intimacy has a big impact on the nervous system, calming it and re-centering it. This means your mental chatter and physical tension will dissipate so that you can sleep deeply.

Both of our sweeties were present and lovingly supported us with our new lives after our SCI accidents. We were all in it for the long haul, “in sickness and in health” but we quickly learned being the caregiver can be mentally and physically exhausting to any relationship, so how do you make it all sexually manageable? We discovered that no matter what the situation, laugh often. Laughter is found to actually improve your quality of life. Equally as important, don’t forget the frequent, sincere “thank you”. A caregiver, spouse or other, wants and needs gratitude to be demonstrated for their job well done. And “thank you” is one of the simplest ways to show you care. Lastly, allow your spouse or partner to have an out as a caregiver. Open communication in caregiving situations is necessary to address caregiving boundaries (caregiving tasks your spouse or partner is willing and capable of doing) as these tasks can have a direct impact on relationship intimacy.

Being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you have to suppress all of your sexiness. Flirt often – don’t forget what attracted you and your partner initially. Laugh often, smile frequently, and enjoy being together. For many with SCI, intercourse may be difficult and/or may create a stressful situation. The act of intercourse is defined as a reproductive act in which the male reproductive organ (in humans and other higher animals) enters the female reproductive tract. If sexual intercourse is challenging and/or stressful, find other methods to recapture your sexual intimacy together. Be creative. Couples can also find intimacy through a change of focus on shared activities rather than focusing on the loss of sex. Re-shift it to common things you enjoy doing together, such as watching a movie, going to a concert or sporting event, enjoying a quiet romantic dinner together, etc. Being deeply in love and sexually intimate and active are both achievable even with a SCI in the mix.

So, sing your song of friendship and enjoy that music of LOVE.

It’s all good, so keep on rollin’. Happy Valentine’s month to all. Patty, BSN, RNC and Roberta, RN The Rollin’ RNs ™ References: Health Benefits of Sex and Intimacy. Retrieved January 30, 2020 from Surprising Health Benefits of Love. Retrieved January 29, 2020 from Give Your Body a Boost -- With Laughter. Obtained February 4, 2020 from


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