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Sex is a huge part of your relationship. It keeps you connected to your partner, and it can still be a great part of your life, even with rheumatoid arthritis.

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? "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 it 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 wants 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. Add 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. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause vaginal dryness that makes sex painful for women. "Lubricants can be a good friend if you have RA," Ruffing says.

Rest beforehand. A nap might not seem sexy, but it can help you feel less tired, and that can make sex better. Ruffing suggests you make a nap part of your pre-sex ritual. Once you link it with fun in the bedroom, taking a short snooze can help get you in the mood.

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