Sex is a part of life, and it’s no different if you have RA. Sex keeps you connected to your partner, and it releases endorphins that can help ease RA pain.
The trick is to take a little extra care. RA can slow you down. These simple tips can help you get in the mood and make your sex life more fun.
Plan it. Great sex just happens, right? Not really. "That's not true at all," says Victoria Ruffing, RN, program manager at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore.
There's nothing unsexy about planning. When you set a time for sex, you have more control and are more likely to enjoy it. Once it's on the calendar, so to speak, looking forward to sex can build up your desire -- something that may have been flagging lately.
"Don't think of it as planned sex," Ruffing says. "Think of it as a date night."
Talk to your partner. Maybe you're worried about the things you can't do. Chances are, your partner mostly wants to be close to you -- physically and emotionally -- and is willing to help. You just have to let him or her know. Be direct with each other about what you're feeling and what you want. If you feel too awkward to talk about it, write it down in a letter and ask for a reply, Ruffing says.
Make your bed comfortable. Try adding a layer of memory foam on your mattress to make it softer. Next time you're in a bedding supply store, fill your cart with throw pillows and bolsters. If you're on your back during sex, you can put one beneath your knees to take off the pressure. You can also use rolled up towels or sheets in the same way.
Have the right supplies. If you're a woman, RA can cause vaginal dryness that makes intercourse painful. "Lubricants can be a good friend if you have RA," Ruffing says.
Rest beforehand. A nap might not seem sexy, but it can help lessen fatigue, and that can make sex better. Ruffing suggests making a nap part of your pre-sex ritual. Once you link it with sex, taking a nap can actually help get you in the mood.
Save your energy in other ways before sex. Skip heavy chores that day, if you can. "When it's date night, put off your grocery shopping and other errands until the next day," says Darlene Lee, NP, a nurse practitioner and practice manager at the University of California Rheumatology Clinic in San Francisco.
Plan your medicine doses. If your pain medication takes an hour to work, take it an hour before you have sex, says Ruffing. Just be aware that some drugs, like opioid painkillers, can slow things down.