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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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6 Tips for Better Sex with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Building a better sex life with rheumatoid arthritis means experimenting with your partner. Try some of these strategies suggested by women with RA and experts:

Plan ahead. Plan sex for a time of day when you generally feel good and time your medications so they will be at the peak of their effectiveness then. Arrange your day so that you won't be tired from other activity.

Get warmed up. Do gentle exercise to improve your range of motion and relax. Take a warm bath or shower to soothe your joints -- or better yet, take one with your partner and make it part of your lovemaking. Take turns giving each other a gentle massage. 

Try new positions. If one position is uncomfortable, get creative -- experiment with new ones. For example, having your partner on top may be painful for some women with RA. Trying lying side by side instead.

Expand your sexual repertoire. Slow down and rediscover foreplay -- leading up to sex or on its own. Stroking and kissing can provide an alternative path to orgasms. Vibrators and oral sex are other options. Remember, too, that both partners don't have to participate equally on any given day. On some days, a warm hug and a gentle joint rub may be all it takes to put you in a state of bliss. 

Don't keep your partner guessing. This is not the time for mystery.Let your partner know -- with actions, noises, and words -- what is exciting, comfortable, and painful during sex.

Once you've had some conversations, Lubbers says, you can develop your own language to indicate that the time is right. While planning ahead can be helpful, taking advantage of the moment can be good, too. RA doesn't have to spell the end to spontaneous sex. "You can have a shorthand signal for 'I feel good, so let's fool around,' so you don't have to talk about it," she says, "almost like the signals between the pitcher and catcher, to make it upbeat and fun."

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