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Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Sex Life

Know What’s Normal continued...

1. Talk it out. Yes, your partner knows you have RA, but does he really get how it affects your sexuality?

“He may think your lack of interest is his fault,” Kim says. “That’s why it’s good to be clear about how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing, even if it seems obvious to you.”

Tip: Use a 1 to 10 scale. You could say, “Today, I’m at a 7. Yesterday, I was at a 3, which is why I wasn’t in the mood.” 

2. Be open to change. Certain sexual activities you used to enjoy might not feel good anymore. But instead of focusing on that, think about what does feel good now and what you would enjoy.

“Ask your partner to try different approaches with you until you find something you both like,” Kim says.

Tip: Use pillows or rolled-up blankets or towels to support you during sex. That might help you and your joints be more comfortable.

3. Time it right. You and your partner might be in the habit of being intimate at the end of the day. But when you have RA, your pain and fatigue often peak later in the day, Husa says.

It may sound less romantic, but plan sexual activity when you’re at your best. And if you take pain meds, give them at least half an hour to take effect.

Tip: If stiff joints are an issue, warm up first by taking a shower or bath, using a heating pad or blanket.

4. Touch and feel. You may not want to hug, kiss, or hold hands when you’re tired or in pain, but you should. “Touch fuels intimacy and desire and plays a crucial role in your overall well-being,” says Stan Tatkin, PsyD, author of Wired for Love.

Research shows that touching can reduce stress. That can decrease RA symptoms like pain and could help you get in the mood, Tatkin says.

Tip: Ask your partner for a gentle massage. 

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Reviewed on December 18, 2015

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