Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Sex, Aging, and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Is it possible to maintain intimacy and a good sex life through RA and menopause? Yes. Here’s how.
By Camille Peri
WebMD Feature

Some women with rheumatoid arthritis sail through menopause without a care while others experience a full menu of menopause symptoms: hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, weight gain. Menopause can also increase symptoms of RA, such as joint pain and fatigue.

There is actually a slight rise in new diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis in women around the onset of menopause. Experts think this -- and the fact that menopause can aggravate RA symptoms -- are probably related to the body’s drop in estrogen, which is believed to affect RA. That may also be why pregnant women -- who have higher levels of estrogen while they're expecting -- may see their RA symptoms get better for a while.

Whether you've lived with RA for a while or just been diagnosed, menopause can pose new challenges to sex, intimacy, and overall well-being. You may feel that because menopause signals the end of fertility, it also means the end of sex. But women with RA can have a thriving sex life well past menopause. Work closely with your doctor, talk honestly with your partner, and try these strategies to help you move smoothly through this life passage.

RA, Menopause, and Vaginal Dryness

One of the first symptoms of menopause that many women experience is vaginal dryness. And it can be a special problem if you have Sjögren’s syndrome, a condition often seen with RA that includes eye, mouth, and vaginal dryness as well as fatigue and achiness. Vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable or even painful.

“Your rheumatologist or gynecologist can advise you on various lubricants that might be helpful,” says Linda Russell, MD, assistant attending physician in rheumatology at the Hospital for Special Surgery and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. You may need to try different over-the-counter lubricants or moisturizers to find the right one for you. Staying sexually active also helps reduce vaginal dryness.

Putting Out Hot Flashes

Do certain foods seem to aggravate your RA symptoms? Some women may find that foods trigger their hot flashes, too. You may want to avoid or cut back on spicy foods, alcohol, and hot beverages if you’re having hot flashes.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
mature couple exercising
Decrease pain, increase energy.
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know?
Swelling, fatigue, pain, and more.
Lucille Ball
Hand bones X-ray
prescription pills
Woman massaging her neck
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Woman rubbing shoulder
Working out with light weights