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RA and Intimacy: Keeping Relationships Strong

How to keep your relationship strong and your sex life exciting.
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Figure Out Why Sex Is Difficult continued...

Believe it or not, it may be easier to talk to your doctor about sexual issues if you bring your partner along. When making your appointment, let your doctor know that you want to focus on intimacy. That way you all can reserve plenty of time to talk about it.

Just can't imagine talking about sex with your rheumatologist? "Talk with whomever you feel most comfortable talking with," says Wei, whether that's a nurse or therapist or your gynecologist. Just don't suffer in silence.

Talk With Your Partner

When you have RA, both you and your partner may avoid sex instead of talking about it -- and that may harm your relationship. Don't make that mistake.

Though it may be difficult to start the conversation, you'll probably both feel relieved once you do. And talking about it honestly is the only way you'll find ways to keep your romantic life vibrant for both of you. It's important that you both have a basic understanding of the disease and the role that pain plays so you can overcome it together.

Kathy Lubbers, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 20 years ago, says good communication with her husband has been critical. Though taking a biologic medication has reduced her symptoms so much that she is able to walk marathons, she says that sexual pain can still be "problematic."

"You need to be open and have conversations about it so you know where you both stand," says Lubbers, 46, president and CEO of Gingrich Communications and a board member of the Arthritis Foundation. "Your partner needs to be aware and considerate of the fact that certain times of day may be more painful for you or you're exhausted. And you have to understand that your partner may be nervous or anxious about causing pain, and standoffish because [of not wanting] to pressure you."

It may be awkward to talk about and try new sexual practices at first. But think about it like this: At its best, rheumatoid arthritis can get you to experiment and expand your sexuality and ways to be intimate together. And that's good for any relationship. 

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