Sex for people with rheumatoid arthritis

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

From the Arthritis Foundation

Rheumatoid arthritis can be put into remission. Despite this, there may be times when sexual or physical activity will be difficult.

A study showed that 50% of women experienced less desire for sex after the onset of rheumatoid arthritis largely because their disease made it difficult for them to assume familiar intercourse positions and because they feared increased joint pain the following day.

Gentle, tender, and creative sexual intercourse can actually be soothing and healing for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Following sex, endorphins are released. Endorphins are the body's own natural painkillers and their beneficial effect can last up to a few hours.

Gentle touch, kissing, holding, and massage are needed acts of intimacy. Whatever causes sensations of pleasure while diminishing sensations of pain are powerful acts of sexuality and intimacy. Visual stimulation can be helpful especially since the mind is said to be the most powerful sexual organ.

Some things can be done ahead of time in preparation for a sexual encounter. Though this contradicts the theory that sex must be spontaneous, such planning can be helpful for reducing pain and making the encounter more enjoyable.

• Plan sex for the time of day you generally feel better
• Take medications to allow the peak of effect to occur during sex
• Avoid extra activity which might increase your level of fatigue
• Do gentle exercises to relax and to improve your range of motion
• Take a warm bath or shower to soothe joints and muscles
• Try new positions which might alleviate pain during sex.

There are a few alternative positions for couples when one or both struggle with arthritis. First, the woman leans her entire upper body over a chair, and kneels on a pillow on the floor. Her partner enters her from behind. Another one which is less painful is when both partners stand, with the woman leaning against a wall or on a piece of furniture. The third position is “spoons” where the woman lies on her side and the man enters her from behind.

Sex can still be spontaneous. During occasions you find yourself feeling better, seize the opportunity for physical, sexual gratification.

Medications which are taken to treat arthritis and relieve pain can have side effects which affect sexual desire and performance. Depression, fatigue, and weight gain are among the side effects. A change in medication or in the dosage schedule may make a difference so do not assume you must live with the undesirable effects. Many new medications exist for the treatment of arthritis. Joint replacement surgery may also be an option for people with severely damaged and limited joints. Increased range of motion is often achieved following joint replacement.

Physical damage caused by arthritis can lead to deformity and physical limitation to varying degrees for different people. Besides the obvious physical impact of arthritis, the changes and challenges which it causes can have a psychological impact too. Not only are joints and cartilage eroded, but self-esteem and confidence can be eroded as well. Self-image obviously can be a casualty of having rheumatoid arthritis.

Get more information about rheumatoid arthritis and related topics as well as...

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Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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