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Arthritis Doesn't Have to End Your Sex Life

Arthritis DoesnÔÇÖt Have to End Your Sex Life

The Hurdles to Overcome

As we advance in age, arthritis can be a dominating reality for many, creating new challenges we never anticipated.  Think about all that you do with just your hands; all the minutiae involved in opening soup cans and screwing on toothpaste caps.  Occasional pain might not hinder your activities much.  When things have an ebb and flow it is possible to adapt to the change in the tides.  But what if the pain is a constant flow or a relentless surge?  And when unscrewing a lid is daunting, how much more daunting is sexual intimacy?  It might appear as though one’s sex life needs to come to a screeching halt.  But there are steps that can be taken to ensure that the intimacy between you and your partner doesn’t have to fizzle.  Leading rheumatologists and orthopedists stress this point: have compassion.  Have compassion not only for yourself, but for your partner.  This might even heighten levels of tenderness and emotional intimacy.  Follow the following steps and you will find ways to still enjoy sex even with arthritis.  

“Arthritis is painful, and pain is exhausting. Further, medications for arthritis may cause fatigue and for women, vaginal dryness. Rest, patience and vaginal lubricants can help.”     


Step One:  Improve Communication

“Communication” might seem to be a redundant tip.  The word can be found contained in self-help and relationship literature so often it’s excessive.  But sometimes, cliches are cliches because they hold tried-and-tested truth.  Honest communication in your sex life will help you to find new ways of maneuvering around insecurities and pain.  Confide in your partner about the emotional and physical changes you have been going through.  It’s also possible that your partner is afraid of hurting you during intercourse.  Nothing puts a damper on passion quite like the fear of accidentally hurting someone you love.  But silence can be misinterpreted as rejection.  So it is best to let your partner in on what hurts and what feels good.  It might be like learning your partner all over again and that’s alright.  These conversations can also be had in front of a doctor or sexual therapist, who can then give specific tips.  


Step Two: Plan for Sex

Most people who experience chronic pain learn that they need to plan out their energy usage.  If you can’t be expected to be ready for sex at the drop of a hat, you will need to be able to schedule it.  This will also help you to prioritize it so that it doesn’t just fall by the wayside.  Schedule sex during a time of day that you usually feel good.  Rest during the day; or rather, rest before and after sex.  If you take pain medications, schedule their consumption about a half an hour before your “date”.  Enjoy a warm bath, perhaps with your partner.  Relax the joints with a heating pad.  Do simple stretches or range-of-motion exercises to increase your flexibility, making you less likely to strain or overexert.  And of course, remember that you still are sexy, pain or no pain.  Wear something sexy if you need to remind yourself of that fact.


Step Three: Experimentation    

This should be the fun part.  Good sex can leave you feeling refreshed and your bond with your partner, renewed.  Orgasms can also provide pain relief on their own.  There are several positions that can take pressure off of bodily areas that are experiencing pain.  For example, hetero couples can use a comfortable chair that allows the lady to straddle the man and control the pace.  This is also good if it is the man that is experiencing pain.  Try using pillows.  They can provide great support as well as cushioning.  Incorporate more massage in your foreplay to alleviate painful areas and bring relaxation to your body.  Employ the use of a vibrator if manual stimulation with the hands is difficult.  Agree on a signal, or as some might call it, a “safe word” to use if someone wants to stop or is experiencing pain.

“When you have arthritis, life happens at a different pace — more tortoise than hare. But we all know how that story ended. As long as you keep moving, you’re winning.”   

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