Sexuality and Arthritis


Living with arthritis can present unique challenges, impacting various aspects of life, including sexuality. It’s essential to address concerns, dispel myths, and provide valuable insights to individuals dealing with arthritis. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various aspects of sexuality and arthritis, offering guidance and support for those navigating these challenges.

What is a ‘normal’ sex life?

In a world where media often portrays an idealized version of sexual relationships, it’s crucial to recognize that there is no universal definition of a ‘normal’ sex life. Arthritis can add complexities, but it is not necessarily the sole determinant of difficulties in relationships or sexual experiences. Preferences, desires, and attitudes toward sex vary among individuals and can change over time.

Understanding that fluctuations in sexual satisfaction are normal for most couples, irrespective of arthritis, emphasizes the importance of communication. Open discussions about feelings, desires, and any challenges encountered can foster mutual understanding, bringing couples closer despite the presence of arthritis.

Will our relationship change because of arthritis?

Arthritis, like any health condition, has the potential to impact relationships. From the challenges of daily tasks to financial strain, arthritis can introduce stressors that may affect the dynamics between partners. It’s essential to acknowledge these changes and engage in open communication.

Individuals with arthritis may find that their roles within the relationship shift, challenging established balances. Whether it’s adapting to new financial circumstances or addressing physical and emotional dependencies, open and honest communication is crucial. The goal is to work together, ensuring that arthritis does not become a reason to manipulate or alter the relationship in ways that lead to dissatisfaction.

How will I manage if I am not in a relationship?

For those not currently in a relationship, concerns about self-image, attractiveness, and the ability to form new connections may arise. Arthritis-related challenges, such as swollen joints or limited mobility, may contribute to these concerns. However, it’s important to recognize that forming new relationships involves more than just physical attraction.

Maintaining social contacts, participating in activities aligned with personal interests, and exploring new avenues for connection can help overcome these challenges. Networking through work, clubs, or community events, and attending groups like Young Arthritis Care for those under 46, can provide opportunities to meet like-minded individuals.

What should my partner know?

Discussing sexual matters, especially when affected by severe arthritis, is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy relationship. Arthritis can significantly impact one’s appetite for and enjoyment of sex, necessitating open conversations between partners.

Hiding arthritis-related concerns from a partner is not a sustainable approach. Instead, partners should strive to create an environment where concerns can be openly shared. Partners should gain an understanding of arthritis and its potential effects, working collaboratively to address challenges and maintain a satisfying sexual relationship.

Will having sex affect my arthritis?

While arthritis can cause pain and discomfort, engaging in sexual activity itself is not likely to worsen the condition. It’s important to recognize that movement of affected joints may be painful, especially when the hips or back are involved. However, maintaining a regular and fulfilling sexual relationship can contribute positively to overall well-being.

Individuals with arthritis, particularly those who have experienced reactive arthritis triggered by sexually transmitted infections, should take special care, such as using protection, to avoid potential complications.

Will arthritis affect my sex life?

Arthritis can influence one’s mood, self-esteem, and physical comfort during sex. Swollen joints may lead to feelings of reduced physical attractiveness, impacting self-confidence in sexual matters. Discomfort during sex may affect desire and enjoyment.

Addressing these challenges requires open communication and a willingness to explore practical solutions. It’s crucial to recognize that arthritis can bring partners closer together if they actively discuss and navigate the problems it presents, potentially enhancing their sex life.

Will my joint replacement affect my sex life?

Individuals undergoing hip or knee joint replacement surgeries may experience disruptions in their sex life due to pain or limitations in movement from the affected joint. However, the operation itself is intended to improve overall mobility and may positively impact one’s sex life in the long run.

Recovery from joint replacement surgery takes time, and patients should follow the guidance provided by healthcare professionals. While resuming sexual activity is generally possible after six weeks, individuals with hip replacements should exercise caution with certain movements to avoid dislocating the new joint.

How can we overcome difficulties with sex?

Overcoming challenges related to sex and arthritis involves proactive communication, understanding, and a willingness to explore solutions. Practical approaches may include trying different sexual positions that minimize joint strain, incorporating aids or accessories for added comfort, and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle to enhance overall well-being.

Who else can I discuss things with?

Engaging with support groups, healthcare professionals, or counselors can provide valuable insights and emotional support. Sharing experiences with others facing similar challenges can foster a sense of community and help individuals navigate the complexities of sexuality and arthritis.

Should I have a baby? Is my baby at risk of arthritis?

For individuals with arthritis contemplating parenthood, consulting with healthcare professionals is crucial. While arthritis itself does not necessarily impact fertility, certain medications may pose risks during pregnancy. Healthcare providers can offer guidance on managing arthritis during pregnancy and assess potential risks to the baby.

Concerns about the baby developing arthritis can be addressed through genetic counseling and early monitoring. While a genetic predisposition may exist, it does not guarantee that the child will develop arthritis.

What should I eat?

Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is crucial for overall well-being, including managing arthritis symptoms. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, can contribute to joint health. Limiting processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats is advisable.

However, it’s essential for individuals with arthritis to consult with healthcare professionals or dietitians for personalized dietary recommendations tailored to their specific condition and needs.


Navigating sexuality with arthritis requires open communication, understanding, and a proactive approach to address challenges. By dispelling myths, fostering communication, and seeking support, individuals and couples can embrace a fulfilling and satisfying sex life, irrespective of arthritis-related obstacles.

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