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Recovering After Lower Limb Amputation

Relationships, Body Image, and Sexuality

Sexuality is much more than sex – it is also about how we see ourselves as sensual beings and express our feelings and emotions. How you think of yourself and how you see your body after your amputation may change, so it’s important to remember the following.

  • It’s normal to feel sad, angry and depressed. It takes time to accept changes to your body.
  • You are still the same person as you were before your amputation.
  • You may be able to do many of your favorite activities but need to learn new ways to do them.
  • You may want to avoid relationships because you are worried about what others think of your body. But this can lead to loneliness, isolation and cause more problems in the future.
  • Dealing with how you feel about the changes in your body will affect how you feel about your sexuality.

You may find it helpful to:

  • stay involved with people you already know
  • join an amputee support group or talk to another amputee about how they have dealt with changes to their body
  • share your feelings about being an amputee with important people in your life
  • talk to a professional counsellor about how to deal with negative feelings

You can express your sexuality by touching, kissing, cuddling, as well as sexual intercourse. Losing a limb does not need to limit your sexuality. It’s important to talk to your partner about your feelings and how the amputation may have changed how your body feels, looks and works.

The following are tips to help with intimacy and sexuality:

  • Focus only on the moment. Don’t think too much about how you’d like to perform.
  • Focus on what both you and your partner like.
  • Tell yourself that it is okay to try new ways of being sexual. For example, you can use pillows to help with balance, or explore new positions and ways of being intimate. Be creative and have fun!
  • Take time to enjoy finding out what works best for you and your partner. You can still have the loving, sexual relationship that you had before the amputation.
  • Try a relaxing massage as foreplay to lessen pain, spasms, and anxiety. Pick a time of day that you feel your best, such as in the morning or after a warm shower or bath to help set the mood.
  • The hard work that you put into your rehabilitation program to get stronger can also help you during sex.

Having a satisfying sex life can lead to a better quality of life. If you want to talk to someone about intimacy, please contact your healthcare team or see the list of resources.

It is important to know that when an amputation is due to problems with blood flow, such as with diabetes, that blood flow problems can also cause sexual problems such as erectile problems in men and less lubrication in women. Talk to your healthcare team about how to manage sexual problems related to problems with blood flow.

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