For those with arthritis, even the simplest, and most pleasurable activities can come with severe pain and punishment. Instead of enjoying your sex life, you are left feeling like every movement is painful.
When thinking of arthritis, most people envision elderly people, while in fact, even young to middle aged people suffer from arthritis. Take John for example. An otherwise healthy, 35 year old man, he is in a happily committed relationship with his wife of 9 years. John was recently diagnosed with arthritis, and has begun feeling the pain of what everyday life with arthritis really means. He never imagined he’d have trouble with his sex life but, because of arthritis, his sex life is suffering.
When thinking of arthritis, most people don’t even think of the sexual side effects, but it is a significant problem for those with this disease. Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes pain and swelling in your joints. It eventually winds up crumbling the bone and cartilage in your body, which leads to stiffness, pain and a decrease in range of motion. Because of the pain and the inability to move comfortably, naturally your sex life is impacted.
Arthritis can be alleviated by a proper exercise routine, adequate rest and relaxation, and prescription medication, but there are times when arthritis can be so bad even with these adjustments that sex can be virtually impossible. One study showed that after arthritis begins, more than fifty percent of woman impacted wanted less sex in their lives. Because it is more difficult to move your hips and legs, having sex can be very uncomfortable and painful. If these women weren’t feeling pain during the sex, usually the next day the pain was virtually unbearable.
There are two kinds of arthritis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis isn’t as well studied as rheumatoid arthritis, but both are reported to be painful for sexual activity and to cause marriages to suffer.
Rethinking Your Arthritis
So if you have either form of arthritis, you’re probably well aware that your sex life is changing. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to experience pleasure or have fun.
If you are one of the millions of people across the country with arthritis, the first step is accepting the problem and learning to explore other ways to experience pleasure with your partner. You may not be able to enjoy the same sex as you had with your partner previously, but this opens you up to new forms of adventure and loving each other. You may need to change the old habits that you’ve gotten used to, like certain positions. This can be good for your sex life and make it not so ‘dull’.
Changing positions can be difficult for people who have always had sex the same way. It may feel awkward and uncomfortable to try something new, but the person suffering from the arthritis may need to limit hip movements, meaning changes are necessary.There is a foundation for people with arthritis, and they actually have recommended positions for people who are suffering from sexual difficulties in their marriage due to their medical conditions. For women who are suffering from arthritis in their hips, a good position is to lean on a chair, with your knees on a pillow, where the man can assume the position from behind. There are many recommendations based on the kind of arthritis that you have and what parts of your body are impacted. Consult with the Arthritis Foundation to find out what may be best for you and your specific situation.
Ways to Monitor and Handle Your Pain
It is important that if sex is uncomfortable for you due to arthritis, that you find ways to relieve that pain. One way to do this is what doctors often recommend- syncing your love making to your medication schedule. If you can have sex within the window where your pain is at its lowest, you can have sex with the least amount of pain. Talk this over with your doctor though, because there are some specific pain medications that can decrease your sexual drive or ability to perform. In this case, this may not work.
You also need to be able to share your pain with your partner without feeling embarrassed or upset. There are going to be times where you are in more pain than other times, and you need to be able to talk about this with your partner a way where no judgment is experienced. Your partner needs to sincerely understand what you are going through and why you may not be able to perform sexually at some times. Communication is the key to getting through something like this, and there is often a lot of guilt involved. One partner may feel that they are disappointing the other, or one may feel like their partner is no longer attracted to them. The best way to avoid miscommunication is to talk it out. Be positive with your partner and always try to put yourself in their shoes. Don’t focus on what feels the most painful; instead try to focus on things that feel good.
Remember that dealing with pain just to pleasure your partner is not fair to you. While trying to do the best thing for your partner is important, you can’t do so at the behest of your own health and well-being. So it is important to strike a good balance, and this all begins with proper, open, and honest communication.
The Benefits of Sex for Arthritis
There are truly benefits to increasing your level of sexual activity if you suffer from arthritis- often, an orgasm can actually relieve the pain of arthritis!
Truly, instead of being consumed with how much pain you are in, keep in mind that sex and orgasms are healing for the body and give your body pleasure. Orgasms release higher levels of serotonin- the pleasure hormone in your body, meaning you will feel less pain. Other endorphins are released during sex that can virtually eliminate your arthritis pain. So just in case you’ve been avoiding sex for a while because you’re afraid of the pain- you may actually experience pain relief from sex, which is a wonderful benefit! While the pain relief may not last forever, often women report that their pain evaporates following an orgasm, often for the entire evening and into the next day.
So if you’ve recently been diagnosed with arthritis, there is no reason to be fearful that it will ruin your sex life. And if you’ve allowed the effects of arthritis to ruin your sex life because of fear, you need to learn to let go, to try new positions and experiences, and to properly communicate with your partner. Talking these issues over with your doctor or a therapist is a wonderful idea, as it can sometimes take an outside professional opinion to offer solutions that you have thought of on your own.
What are your thoughts? What tips work for you? Share your thoughts with us!