Don’t Let Arthritis or Joint Pain Ruin Your Sex Life

Arthritis or Joint Pain Ruin Your Sex Life
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

You may think that if you have arthritis or joint pain, you shouldn’t engage in physical sexual activity, but this isn’t the case! Doctors have said that sex can be good for your joint and muscle pain, and you don’t have to let your arthritis get in the way of you having a healthy sex life.

Arthritis is a result of years and years of daily wear and year of your joints and muscles. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is the breaking down of your muscle and joint cartilage, which in turn causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and inflammation. As you get older it is common for you to experience osteoarthritis. Some factors that can influence the early onset of arthritis are weight, repetitive joint strain, and frequent computer usage. It is a disease that affects millions of adults and hundreds of thousands of children around the world.

There are, of course, things you can do to prevent arthritis. Ask your doctor about getting treatment for your arthritis or joint pain. Aside from medication, your doctor or physician will probably recommend you some low-impact exercises such as walking, water aerobics, or low-level yoga. Dr. Marty Klein, a sex therapist from Palo Alto recommends sex as a physical exercise saying, “Sex is terrific for people with arthritis.” He explains that sex involves a large range of motion, minimizes* pain, and strengthens the muscles around the joints. Additionally, during sex the body releases endorphins, which naturally decrease* pain. “It’s mood-elevating, which likewise helps alleviate pain,” says Dr. Klein.

Here are some suggestions for you to get the best out of your sex life even with your arthritis or joint and muscle pain.

Preparation Before Sex

1. Plan Ahead

Make a “sex date” with your partner and try to schedule a time when you think you will not be experiencing intense pain. If you know your body and you listen to it, you should know when you would be feeling particularly good. If you feel as though you are better in the mornings, plan a morning date.

2. Loosen Up and Cool Down

Before you engage in sexual intercourse, it is a good idea to do some light exercise beforehand. Your body may feel startled if you suddenly engage in sexual activity without any warning. Before having sex, you can go on a walk or do some dancing with your partner. You should also do some gentle stretching before you begin. After exercising, you can relax and soothe your joints by taking a nice warm shower before having sex. The heat will help alleviate joint pains and well as relax your mind in preparation for sex.

3. Take Medicine

You can take some medicine before you have sex if you are experiencing pain, stiffness, are inflammation. Make sure to ask your doctor for advice before taking any non-prescribed medication such as pain relievers, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen including Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve. These drugs can cause long-term liver damage or gastrointestinal distress so exercise caution when taking them.

Take Medicine

During Sex

1. Be Dynamic

The best part of sex for your arthritis is the body movements so don’t limit yourself to just one specific movement, pelvic thrust, or gyration. Prolonged periods of foreplay such as massaging can help increase* your range of motion as well as relax your joints. Engage your whole body in the sexual act in order to receive all the benefits of sexual intercourse for your arthritis. A bonus is that sex experts say that doing so can increase* your sexual satisfaction and ability to orgasm.

2. Use Toys

If you feel stiffness during sex, don’t be ashamed or afraid to use a vibrator for help. Arthritis can make it difficult for you to achieve the range of motion you’re looking for and using toys can help make your sexual experience more enjoyable.

3. Remain In Communication

Every once in a while check in to see how your partner is doing and if you are both comfortable. Adjust your positions to achieve maximum comfort and minimize pain. If you are not feeling comfortable, make sure to speak up and say something because your discomfort will decrease* enjoyment, not just for you, but also your partner.

During Sex

After Sex

1. Talk to Your Partner

Talk to your partner after sex and make sure that you both found the experience enjoyable. If you had to stop suddenly because of sudden pains, talk to your partner about it and discuss how you should both proceed from there. Let your partner know how much you appreciate your partner’s support. Be open and honest with your partner.

2. Ask For Help

If you experienced a lot of pain and trouble during sex, you can ask a sex therapist for help and tips to make your sexual activity more comfortable and enjoyable. A sex therapist would be very knowledgeable and can advise you and your partner on the best positions that increase* pleasure and reduce* pain. Don’t be afraid to openly discuss your sex life so that you can make the most out of it.

3. Consider Alternatives

Your joint pain may be causing you extreme discomfort and inconvenience at this point, and maybe the time has come for you to consider joint replacement. Ask your doctor if joint replacement is a viable option for you. Replacing a joint can help you move and feel better. Data from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH) has showed that over 1 million Americans have their hip or knee joints replaced each year. Furthermore they have shown that new joints generally last at least 10 to 15 years. A survey of a hospital in New York showed that most patients with severe arthritis reported sexual dissatisfaction before joint replacement. After joint replacement however, 81% claimed to have increased sexual activity and satisfaction.

Sources:

  • Hip replacement: Questions and answers about hip replacement. (2012, April). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved on July 19, 2012, from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Hip_Replacement/default.asp
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Retrieved on May 2011, 2012 http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq020.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140424T0244342613
  • Stuart Brody PhD, The relative health benefits of different sexual activities. J Sex Med 2010;7:1336–1361 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01677.x/abstract
  • National Health Service, Article Retrieved on May 2013 http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/974.aspx?categoryid=118

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Author

Expert Author : Beth Solomon (Consumer Health Digest)

Beth Solomon has been writing articles on health for more than two years with a concentration on pain management and men’s and women’s health and fitness. She has been a contributing editor to Consumer Health Digest since 2013.