Enjoying Sex Even When You Have Arthritis
Arthritis, or the inflammation and stiffness of the joints, can affect numerous areas of your life, and sex is no exception. A study published in the journal Rheumatology International in 2018 found that 57 percent of people living with rheumatoid arthritis reported difficulty having intercourse, and some participants also reported pain during sex, low libido (sex drive) and dissatisfaction with their overall sexual health.
Arthritis and your sex life
Sex will not make arthritis worse. But the physical demands of sex and the pain of moving arthritic joints, particularly in the hips and back, could cause discomfort.
- Some of the ways in which arthritis can affect your sex life include the following:
- Fatigue from arthritis can decrease libido.
- Painful or stiff joints may make certain sex positions more difficult.
- Swollen joints can reduce confidence and make you feel less attractive.
- Arthritis may cause vaginal dryness and painful sex.
If you have arthritis, you can still have a healthy, fulfilling sex life. Sex can even be beneficial for people suffering from arthritis. Soft and sensual sex, which involves gentle, range-of-motion exercise, can reduce pain and inflammation. Sex releases endorphins, which are hormones that relieve pain and improve mood. Sex also strengthens the muscles around the joints, helping to support them.
The following tips can help you have a satisfying sex life while living with arthritis:
If your partner is hurting you during sex, let them know. It's critical to communicate pain without embarrassing them. You may want to come up with a signal that indicates something is hurting you if you don't feel comfortable saying it aloud.
Don't forget about pleasure
Remember that your body is a vessel for pleasure. Don't focus on what your body can't do because of arthritis; think about what you can do, especially the pleasurable aspects. Orgasms release endorphins that have been reported to alleviate arthritis pain for several hours.
Your appetite for sex will likely be greater if you are active. Exercise will help you tone your muscles and improve the range of movement in your joints.
Try different sex positions
Some sex positions are more arthritis-friendly, including:
Face down, bottom up
The receiving partner lies face down with a pillow to support their hips and their buttocks lifted up. The other partner enters from behind. This requires less stretching of the hips, legs and pelvis for the partner on the receiving end. If the partner on top is the one in pain, this position does not put as much pressure on their lower back and knees.
Face down, legs together
The receiving partner lies on their stomach while the giving partner enters from behind. Squeezing the legs together can help intensify a woman's orgasm. Don't try this position if you suffer from neck pain.
Standing up, facing wall
The receiving partner stands and faces a wall, bracing themselves with their hands, while the giving partner penetrates from behind. This position requires less stretching of the pelvic area and less stress on the shoulders for both parties.
Save your energy
It's normal to feel tired when you have rheumatoid arthritis. Try to pick times when you feel you have more energy. The best time for sex is probably not in the morning when your joints are most stiff. Use your pain medications before sex. Taking a power nap also helps.
Take a warm bath or get a massage
Stiffness can make it difficult to move in different positions. A warm bath can ease the stiffness in your joints. See a massage therapist or ask your partner for a massage. This will relax your muscles and loosen your joints.
Sex is a critical part of everyone's life. Even if you suffer from arthritis, you deserve to improve your sexual health and well-being. Although it can be difficult to navigate sex with arthritis, by acting on the tips above, it's definitely within reach.