Psoriasis can change the way you feel about your body, especially with a romantic partner. And when it's around your groin or on your genitals, sex can be painful and could make your symptoms worse.
That doesn't mean you have to avoid close relationships. Psoriasis shouldn't get in the way of a healthy and satisfying love life.
Talk About It
A big part of good sex is being vulnerable. Put your cards on the table well beforehand so you can be in the moment and enjoy it, rather than worrying about what might happen or what your partner is thinking. Simply sharing your concerns can be enough to ease them.
When you're with someone new, be up front about your psoriasis. Explain that it's not catching and doesn't spread through kissing, hugging, or making love. Since psoriasis around your groin and genitals can look like an STD, you may need to reassure your partner that it isn't an infection. (Can't answer all your partner's questions? Invite them along on your next doctor visit.)
Tell them what feels good and what doesn't. If you're having a flare or sex is too painful, be honest. Sex is only one part of intimacy. Explore other ways of touching and being together instead. Bonus: That could make the sex even better the next time around.
Set the Mood
The right underclothes or strategically revealing lingerie can help you feel sexy and confident. Choose undies that are silk, linen, or cotton. Synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester hold in heat and can stick to dry, cracked skin. They can even trigger flares.
The same goes for your sheets: Natural fibers are better. White or light colored bedding will help hide flakes. Dark colors won't show traces of blood as much.
Of course, dim or no lights may help you feel less exposed when you first bare your skin. Soothing music and calming scents like lavender, vanilla, orange, cedar, and frankincense (from candles or an essential oil diffuser) may help you relax, too. And once you get going, your and your partner's attention will probably be on other things.
Lubes help cut down the friction that can make sex painful. Be sure to choose one labeled cooling. These usually have mint and other soothing herbs. Warming lubes often use hot peppers and spices that could trigger flares.
Or make your own lube with coconut oil. It keeps skin moist and may calm burning and itching.
A lubricated condom cuts down on irritation, too. Look for non-latex ones; some treatments for genital psoriasis can cause latex condoms to leak or break.
Take Care of Your Skin
After sex, gently clean your genitals and sweaty skin, then put on your psoriasis medicine and moisturizer.
Moisture is key to keeping your skin healthy. Look for face and body creams without alcohol, fragrance, or dyes to avoid irritation. Some people swear by natural oils like coconut or avocado. Apply them after your bath or shower while your skin is still damp, and whenever your skin feels dry.
Don't be afraid to speak up about psoriasis symptoms, especially in the groin area, since your doctor might not ask. Treatment can help clear your skin and make you feel better and more comfortable with your body.
Take Care of Yourself
You'll have a tough hill to climb when you're anxious or worried. Ongoing stress can trigger a shift in hormones, shutting down your sex drive in order for you to focus on survival. And stress is a common trigger for psoriasis flares.
Accepting psoriasis as part of your life is an important step. It's part of what makes you, you. Whoever you're having sex with should accept and want all of you, too. If they're turned off by it, they probably aren't someone you're going to connect with in other ways either.
Consider counseling or therapy to build your self-esteem and confidence. You can work with your therapist to figure out how to bring up issues related to sex and to practice talking about them.
Regular exercise will release endorphins that boost your mood and help reset the sex hormone balance. You'll sleep better and have more energy, too. Yoga, meditation, and laughter -- even 10 minutes a day -- can also ease tension and restore your libido.
And sex relieves stress, so nookie sounds like a win all the way around!
Take Your Time
Don't rush intimacy. When you've given yourself the chance to get to know each other and build up trust, you'll find it easier to be free and sexy between the sheets.