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Will arthritis affect my sex life?

There are a number of ways that arthritis can affect your sex life:

  • Arthritis can affect your mood and general wellbeing which, in turn, can affect your sex drive.
  • Swollen joints can affect your self-confidence and make you feel less attractive.
  • Fatigue associated with arthritis can reduce your sexual desire. Your healthcare team can advise you on ways of managing fatigue and conserving energy – more information is available in our fatigue section.
  • Painful joints may make it more difficult to move into a position you’re used to.
  • Arthritis sometimes leads to a dry vagina, which may make sex uncomfortable. Water-based lubricating gels such as KY Jelly or Aquagel may help. You can get these on prescription or from a pharmacy, supermarket or online. Oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline or baby oil may irritate your skin or damage condoms. If you're going through the menopause this can cause vaginal dryness – discuss this with your doctor as treatment is available.  

Sex isn't equally important to all couples, but if it has been important to you and your partner then you should try to find ways to meet both your needs.

Most people with arthritis find that their pain can vary from day to day, so you may want to make the most of opportunities on your better days. If you experiment with different positions, you should be able to find some that are more comfortable for your joints.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.