Facebook Pixel

Arthritis and Intimacy: Why Your Sex Life Needn’t Be Over Just Because You’re in Pain

Rate This

What do you do if you have arthritis and all your joints are painful and swollen and it hurts even get up from your chair? You may be thinking that intimacy and sex with your partner is a thing of the past, but don’t panic, your love life needn’t be over forever just because you have a disability.

How Can Arthritis Affect Sex?

There are several ways that arthritis can impact sex. The joint pain may cause discomfort when attempting sexual intercourse and you may be limited as to what positions you can try.

If you are taking medications to control arthritis, these can have side-effects such as fatigue and low libido. If you are a man, they can also cause impotency.
There are also psychological problems caused by arthritis. You might have lower self-esteem due to being in pain or having to wear braces or your partner might be afraid of worsening your pain through intimacy and so try to avoid being close.
These types of problems should be confronted immediately because if they are ignored, the relationship will start to suffer.

Tips for Maintaining Intimacy

• Always talk to each other about any confidence issues or fears you have.
• If you think your medications are causing side-effects or impotency, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or give you a different medication that does not affect you as much. Consider some alternative remedies to ease joint inflammation such as ginger, turmeric or aloe vera.
• Full body pillows are available, such as those used for pregnancy and these could be used during intercourse to help support you.
• If you have arthritic hips, a side by side position can be easier than the traditional missionary position. Some people with arthritis find an upright position is easier than lying down. Standing or kneeling may be preferable to women with hip problems, who could find it painful to part their knees.
• Consider other forms of intimacy. Sex is not all about penetration! You could try using warm water to ease pain, for instance, by being intimate in a bath tub or shower.
• A relaxing massage can bring you closer and help your arthritis at the same time.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Sex & Relationships

Get Email Updates

Resource Centers

Sex & Relationships Guide

HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!