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RA and Intimacy: Keeping Relationships Strong

How to keep your relationship strong and your sex life exciting.

Sex and the Single Woman With RA

Rheumatoid arthritis presents slightly different challenges for women who are single and dating. When should you bring up the subject? There's no rule about when is the right time to talk about rheumatoid arthritis. Unless you're approaching intimacy early in the relationship, Phillips says, you certainly don't need to blurt it out right away -- just as you wouldn't necessarily talk about other personal issues immediately. Get to know each other a bit first.

And when you do bring it up, Phillips suggests a casual approach. Don't apologize or present RA as a problem or tragedy.

"If you do that, a prospective partner may think [it's] a care-giving relationship instead of a romantic relationship," he says. "Just talk about it like it's as much a part of your life as the color of your hair. And let [your prospective partner] know that you're dealing with it -- you'll also get Brownie points because it shows that you are handling something difficult well."

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Lead to Better Sex?

In the end, the quality of your intimate relationships hinges largely on the quality of your life. Taking care to feel your best with RA -- being consistent with your treatments, exercising, responding to your physical needs -- makes you much more attuned to your body, says McNeil. That allows you to have a much deeper sexual experience. And good sex, in turn, can help you get beyond the pain.

While you may never be happy about having rheumatoid arthritis, accepting it can be transformative, McNeil adds. "It broadens you as a person to have to abandon some aspects of your ego. At that point, some inhibitions go away, and the fewer inhibitions you have, the better your sex. It can make you feel much more alive."

Reviewed on January 25, 2011

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