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Enjoying Sex When You Have Arthritis

Enjoying Sex When You Have Arthritis | Jo Divine

People can develop arthritis at any time in their life. It can be a debilitating, painful disease which can greatly impact upon your life and relationships. One aspect of your life which can be affected is your sexual relationship with your partner. Symptoms of arthritis can be physical, psychological or a combination of both. These problems can be overcome or alleviated by some of the following which can help you to lead a more fulfilling sexual relationship.

“Sex is terrific exercise for people with osteoarthritis,” says Palo Alto sex therapist Marty Klein, Ph.D. “It provides gentle, low-impact, massage-like exercise. It moves the major joints through their full range of motion. It releases pain-relieving endorphins. And the closeness of lovemaking, the feeling of being loved, also helps relieve pain.”

Communication

Communication is key in any relationship but when you are experiencing problems with your sexual health and relationship, talking openly to your partner about your fears, whether it is a physical or emotional problem is really important. Your fear of pain may make you feel anxious about sex but your partner may also be feeling worried about hurting you. This can lead to couples avoiding sex and intimacy, thus increasing the problem.

By talking to your partner and listening to them, you can both find out what works for you. Let your partner know if a certain position is uncomfortable and tell them what feels good too. If, after talking to each other, you are still experiencing problems, seek professional advice through your GP.

Careful Planning

If you do experience pain, then plan ahead and take your pain killers an hour before having sex to make it feel more comfortable. If having a bath or shower eases your joint pain, why not share one with your partner to spice up your evening. The gentle massage of scented oils or soap over your body is not only sensuous but also relaxing and can help to alleviate your stiff joints too.

Time of Day

If you are completely exhausted by the end of the day and just want to crawl under the duvet, have sex at a time which is better for you. It often feels naughty and illicit to have sexual intercourse during the day but if that time is suitable for you, do it. Feeling a bit naughty will heighten your sexual pleasure too.

Sensual Massage

Gentle massage of your body can help to ease stiff joints and is an excellent way of getting you both in the mood so incorporate it into your foreplay. You could also try using a body massager, great for soothing aches and pains and perfect for intimate use too.

Change position

Changing position can greatly increase your sexual pleasure. Try experimenting with different positions which feel more comfortable for you. Using cushions, pillows or special wedges to support your body can really help. You may not be swinging from the chandeliers but will have lots of fun finding out what works for you!

Seek advice from your GP and physiotherapist as to what positions are suitable if you find it painful or uncomfortable.

Sex Toys

Using a sex toy can help with fatigue, loss of sensation and sexual dysfunction.

Choose a product made from skin safe silicone which is gentle on the skin of the genital area, silicone, metal, ABS plastic and glass sex toys are all safe to use as they are non-porous, making for easy cleaning. They also feel really good too!

Materials such as rubber and jelly can be harmful as they are porous, making them difficult to clean. This means that bacteria can linger on the product and could give you thrush. They also contain phthalates, a substance banned from children’s toys because it is harmful to health.

It is best to avoid latex sex toys as many people suffer from latex allergies due to the prevalence of latex found in most condoms and surgical gloves, some dildos, vibrators and bondage products. If you are using a latex product, pop a condom on it.

Glass and metal sex toys are safe to use with oil, water and silicone based lubricants, however you can’t use silicone lubricant with a silicone sex toy. This is because the silicone will react, leaving a tacky texture and a ruined toy. Water and oil based lubes are silicone-sex toy compatible.

When considering buying a sex toy, think about its size, shape, weight and how it works. Bigger is not necessarily better, it is the power of the motor that matters.

Some vibrators are rechargeable so you don’t need to fiddle about with batteries if your hands are stiff. Some products are remote controlled, enabling you to insert them and control them remotely.These are great fun for both couples play, solo pleasure and can reduce your hands getting tired too. You only need to push a button for intense sexual pleasure.

Some sex toys have been designed ergonomically, making them really easy to hold and control such as Rocks-Off Engima and Satisfyer Pro 2 which you do not move, just leave in place over the clitoris because it uses Air Pulse Wave technology.

Penis sleeves feel similar to the inside of a vagina and can produce amazing sexual sensations and increase stimulation. Many sleeves have moulded internal sheaths, which, when lubricated will produce a similar sensation to being inside a vagina. Using a sleeve can help to speed up reaching orgasm which may be beneficial in reducing fatigue in hands and wrists for both partners.

Cock rings can increase erection size, increasing sexual pleasure and enabling a man to prolong their erection. Vibrating rings also offer clitoral stimulation, ideal if you struggle to orgasm during penetrative sex.

Male sex toys are a great way to overcome issues of erectile dysfunction and help you enjoy better sex.

Some vibrators are for clitoral use only and tend to be smaller in size, making them easier to hold, others are for internal use but can be used externally too. Rabbit vibrators combine both internal and external stimulation, doubling your sexual pleasure.

Get lubed up

Many women suffer from vaginal dryness or vaginal atrophy, both of which can make sexual intercourse feel painful or uncomfortable. Think carefully about what lubricant you use as the tissues of the vagina and clitoral area is very delicate and absorbent. Try using an organic lubricant which does not contain irritating ingredients including glycerin which can cause thrush, glycocls that are well known vaginal irritants and parabens which have no place inside our body. Many water based products are hyperosmotic which means they draw moisture from the walls of the vagina, not hydrate them, hence exacerbate vaginal dryness.

YES organic lubricant is completely free from chemicals, containing only plant extracts and is approved by the Soil Association. It feels similar to vaginal secretions and is completely absorbed safely.

Choose a pH balanced sexual lubricant to promote good vagina health and always check the ingredients label before buying a product. There are several products available on prescription which promote vagina ehalth so ask your GP. Food products and those in your bathroom cupboard have not been desogned for sexual use and are not suitable.

As we age, the walls of the vagina become thin due to hormonal changes, making sex feel painful. Using YES lubricants and vaginal moisturiser can help to lubricate and moisturise them, making them more flexible and less likely to tear during sex.

Use protection

Reactive arthritis can be caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. If you have had this type of arthritis before, always use a condom to avoid contracting an STI and trigger reactive arthritis.

Great Sex Without Intercourse

Sometimes full penetrative sex is just not possible but that is no reason to stop enjoying sex. Sex without intercourse allows many couples to enjoy a more fulfilling sex life. Focusing on other ways to enjoy sex, such as hand massage, using sex toys, watching erotic films or reading erotic books and using light bondage, couples can still enjoy intimacy and sexual pleasure with their partner.

Masturbation

Masturbating in front of your partner can be sexually arousing and using a sex toy such as a vibrator can enable many men to gain pleasure from stimulating their partner in this way when full penetrative sex is not possible. Using a vibrator can also help if they become fatigued due to arthritic wrists and hands and many are shaped to make them easy to hold such as the Pulse III Solo Essential. Some sex toys are remote control and can be inserted for couples play, enabling your partner to be in control of your pleasure and avoiding the need to hold the vibrator in place. Others can be propped up on a pillow or cushion and some are lightweight so easy to hold. The Rocks-Off Ruby Glow is a sex toy that you sit on so ideal for those with limited ability.

Bondage

Use of light bondage can spice up your sex life. Wearing a blindfold can heighten your senses of touch, taste and smell. The feeling of not knowing what is happening next can be arousing. Incorporating silky ties into your lovemaking can bring a sense of kinkiness to it too.

Oral Sex

Oral sex is great for non penetrative sex. You do not need a fully erect penis to enjoy the pleasures of oral sex. Tell your partner what you like and dislike so they can ensure they are bringing you maximum pleasure. Using flavoured lubricants can spice up the experience if you are not keen on the taste but not recommended for vaginal, vulval or anal use as many contain glycerin that can cause thrush. However there are products that contain natural ingredients so always check the label.

Erotic films and fiction

There have never been so many erotic publications to choose from so spice up your sex life and enjoy a good sexy read or film together.

Even though you may not be able to have full penetrative sex, you can enjoy all the sexual pleasure that sex without intercourse brings by incorporating some of the techniques mentioned above.

Don’t give up on sex just because you have arthritis. There are many ways in which you can have a fulfilling sex life. Experiment with positions, sex toys and non penetrative sex to find out what works for you to achieve amazing orgasms and enjoy fantastic sexual health and well being.

Useful Websites

Arthritis Care : www.arthritiscare.org.uk
Arthritis Action : www.arthritisaction.org.uk
Versus Arthritis : www.versusarthritis.org
National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society : www.nras.org.uk
UK Gout Society : www.ukgoutsociety.org
Fybromyalgia Action UK : www.fmauk.org
Lupus UK : www.lupusuk.org.uk
National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society : www.nass.co.uk