Ask the Experts: Sex and RA
James D. Capozzi, MD, associate clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, answers your question about rheumatoid arthritis and your sex life.
Q: Can increased joint or back pain after sex be managed?
A: Treat typical stiffness and pain that follows sex the same way you would treat discomfort after working in the yard or sitting in a car. Warm soaks, rest and the use of prescribed medicines are generally very helpful. If the pain is different from the pain you usually experience, talk to your doctor. You should never feel increased or excessive joint or back pain before, during or after sex.
Q: How can a person tell his or her partner that sex increases pain without making that person feel rejected?
A: Be open and honest. Express the level of pain you're in as well as your willingness to explore different, less painful positions. Most people are very concerned about their partners and their level of pain and discomfort. They usually want sex to be satisfying and enjoyable for both people and are willing to try positions that will not be painful. It's also important to remember that intimacy and sex don't always mean intercourse. If you're experiencing a flare, explore sexual activities that do not involve intercourse. Be patient with yourself and with your partner, and remember that sex is supposed to be fun, not stressful.