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When Adam Brown was diagnosed with lupus in 2007, he was afraid it would mean the end of his sex life. “Sex was definitely a big concern, especially since I was only 23,” he says. But Brown, now 26 and married, was relieved to find that wasn’t the case. “It was a little rough going at first, but my wife and I have worked through the problems and have a good sexual relationship.”

Sexual health can be a big concern for anyone with lupus. Some of the symptoms of lupus, such as oral or genital sores, joint pain, and fatigue can make sex uncomfortable or even painful. And the medications used to treat lupus can cause weight gain, vaginal dryness, and a decreased libido. Add to that concerns about self-esteem and body image, and it’s easy to see why lupus can have a significant effect on your sex life.

But having lupus doesn’t have to mean the end of sex. It may take some patience, creativity, and extra communication, but many people can find ways to have a satisfying sex life with lupus.

This article offers eight ways to improve your sex life when you have lupus.

1. Find Out What’s Causing Your Sexual Problem

“If lupus is affecting your sex life, figure out what’s causing the problem so you can address that particular symptom,” says Meenakshi Jolly, MD, MS, director of the Rush Lupus Clinic and assistant professor of medicine and behavioral medicine at Rush University.

For example, some medications for lupus can cause vaginal dryness or a lowered libido. If this is the case, your doctor may be able to change your medication or suggest a lubricant. If pain, fatigue, or depression is getting in the way of your sex life, talk with your doctor about treatments.

“If we know about the problem, we can often find ways to help,” says Jolly. But unfortunately, many people don’t mention their sexual problems to their doctor because they feel embarrassed or ashamed. “I encourage patients to talk about sexual issues, so we can try to find solutions."

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