Episode 17: Sex & Love When You Are Sick

Welcome to Episode 17 of F*ck Like a Woman. Today I’m talking with Dr. Melvin Lee Phillips, a Licensed Psychotherapist based in Washington, DC. who treats patients and couples facing chronic illness and sexual dysfunction. His upcoming book, Sex & Love When You Are Sick, addresses strategies to overcome shame and the sexual limitations experienced from the illness by reclaiming a sex life that works, and, it will help the couple develop a “new normal” for their relationship.


On today’s show, we talk about:

1.)  What inspired Dr. Phillips to write Sex & Love When You Are Sick?

2.)  When couples are battling a chronic illness, what does this mean for their sex life?

3.)  How can we keep a partnership from being neglected due to a chronic illness?

4.)  What are some others factors associated with chronic illness other than just chronic pain?

5.)  What are some tips that you can provide to couples who suffer from sexual dysfunction due to chronic illness?

6.) When will the book be published and where can listeners sign up to pre-order a copy of the book?


ABOUT THE BOOK, Sex & Love When You Are Sick

A satisfying sex life is one way of feeling healthy when so much of the couple’s life has changed due to a chronic illness. Sex & Love When You Are Sick will provide couples with strategies to overcome shame and the sexual limitations they are experiencing due to illness by reclaiming a sex life that works. Couples will learn to acknowledge loss, cope, and build a relationship with the illness. This book will help the couple develop the “new normal” of their partnership. Experiencing a chronic illness can be earth-shattering. Individuals who are chronically ill often experience extreme emotional distress. The ability to engage in occupational, social, and recreational activities can be limited and the negative impact on one’s sex life can be devastating.  

Sexuality in a relationship involves a wide mix of feelings and emotions and when both the individual and their partner are together battling a disease, the future of their intimate lives becomes uncertain and both partners feel that loss. The ill partner feels overwhelmed and shame about the changes in their sexuality. Suffering from a chronic illness may mean not only restricting sex but also experiencing a reduced desire for sex.  This can sometimes be the most difficult part of a chronic medical illness. They may feel less attractive, less confident, and concerned about how their body works and adapts to an illness. Both partners can become plagued with anxiety due to the worry around reduced sexual activity, and the changes in desire and arousal caused by the illness and its symptoms.

When experiencing a chronic illness, some changes may be physical, such as the changes with one’s body, side effects from medication, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, and pain. The sick partner may experience psychological changes such as depression and anxiety. Most of all, there is constant fear around sexual ability and sexual performance.  Physical intimacy is paramount to the quality of life, and that need does not decrease with an illness; it is still important when living with a debilitating disease.

Chronic illness can have profound negative effects on a relationship and sexual satisfaction. With a life restricted by pain and illness, Sex & Love When You Are Sick will inform readers that sex can be a powerful source for comfort, pleasure and intimacy. Sex & Love When You Are Sick will equally apply to readers who are in heterosexual, gay, lesbian, transgendered, kink, and polyamorous relationships.


Dr. Melvin Lee Phillips, Jr., is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Dr. Phillips has worked in several mental health and substance abuse treatment settings including outpatient community mental health, inpatient treatment, and  private practice for the past 12 years. He is a speaker and has lectured on topics including preventative services, anxiety and stress management, caregiving stress, depression in the elderly, mindfulness and cognitive strategies for chronic pain, ethical decision making, and the assessment of mental disorders. He has published in the Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, conducting a research study on LGBTQ-Affirmative Teaching at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Understanding Program Directors Views. He holds a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Behavioral Health from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. In addition, Dr. Phillips holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Norfolk State University and is an adjunct professor in the Master of Social Work Program with the School of Social Work at Western New Mexico University. Dr. Phillips currently has a private practice in Washington, DC. Where he treats chronic illness and sexual dysfunction.



Dr. Melvin Lee Phillips, Jr., Ed.D., LCSW, CSAC

Licensed Psychotherapist (DC, MD, VA)

Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (VA)

Capitol Hill Consortium for Counseling & Consultation

650 Pennsylvania Avenue SE

4th Floor, Suite 440

Washington, DC 20003

Phone: (202) 544-5440

Cell: (757) 582-3233

Virginia Branch Office:

2001 Richmond Highway

Suite 1201

Arllington, VA 22202

(703) 413-3028



Pronouns: He/Him/His


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