Sexual Health Q&A

What can people with arthritis do to make sex easier and more enjoyable?

With some adjustments and compromises, people with arthritis can still enjoy sex. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • New positions. If weight or motion makes a certain position painful, couples can try another one. Using pillows can make some positions more comfortable.
  • Options other than intercourse. Couples may try other forms of intimacy, such as touching, kissing, massage, oral sex, and manual stimulation.

 

  • Planning ahead. Some people with arthritis find that they feel better at certain times of day. Or, they may find that their pain medication is most effective at a particular time. Planning intimacy around those times may work well.
  • Preparation. Relaxing before sex can alleviate pain.  Some people with arthritis take a nap before sex. Applying heat to stiff joints (through a hot bath or shower or a heating pad) is another strategy. 

 

  • Communication. It’s generally helpful for people with arthritis to be honest and open with their partners about what is comfortable and what is not. Being direct can help the partner better understand the situation and relieve anxiety about causing pain.

Couples can also work through relationship issues through open, honest communication. Maintaining an healthy relationship helps sexual relations on many levels and communication is key. Couples who feel they need help in this area may decide to seek counseling.