Sex Vs Arthritis

Let’s talk about sex baby. Let’s talk about you and me, arthritis.

To some people pain is sexy, if that’s your kind of thing, that’s fine whatever floats your boat but there really isn’t much sexy about arthritis. Being diagnosed with what I originally thought was an old lady’s disease doesn’t make me feel very sexy, that is for sure. There really is nothing sexy about arthritis at all. And yeah, it makes my sexlife a little dry.

Chronic illness brought out new insecurities I never had issues with before. The older I get, the more my arthritis progresses and the more pain I am in. I’ve slowly become scared of anyone touching me because most touch hurts or is uncomfortable. I can barely handle someone sleeping next to me. I can thank Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia for this. Sometimes I can’t even handle them sitting next to me. Arthritis has forced me to desire being alone because sometimes the simplest human interaction is painful. How could I be a fulfilling lover? A girlfriend? A wife? I already struggle to take care of myself and add in a child. Anxiety and depression make me crave but question love, attention, affection and passion. As a mother I sometimes need it. Yet my child’s soft cuddles relieve me of the loneliness chronic illness creates in ones heart.

Obviously with all this illness I have to take some medications. A common side effect for medication is low libido. A common symptom of chronic illness is low libido. Another common side effect of medication is difficulty reaching an orgasm. Sex almost seems like a faint memory of my past that chronic illness stole.

Sex and arthritis are no fun together, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy yourself.

There’s toys, lotions, lubes, cooling sensations, warming sensations, positions and so much more. Your sex life doesn’t have to be completely dry but chances are it will lower because of your illness. And hope to hell you have a kind, compassionate, giving, and patient lover.

Like most physical exercise or emotional outbursts, sex requires energy that takes up my precious spoons, which is an indicator us chronically ill use to measure our fatigue levels for the day. I am better off with a nap or a bedtime after a romp between the sheets, or couch because that’s more comfortable and I am lucky if I can recover after. With my schedule, it’s hard to even find time to think about sex these day. If I do, it’s usually planned out rather than spontaneous.

However I am 32, I am still in the years of my sexual prime, no? I also have to mourn the loss of being able to wear high heels, which made me feel sexy. I could run in 8 inch heels during my early 20s. Arthritis stole my ability to wear heels. R.I.P. Seriously, I am 5 foot nothing.

Not tonight honey, I have Arthritis.

After my diagnosis of Arthritis my self esteem dropped to severely low, it was easy for some men to walk all over me because of that. I was scared no one would accept the new me, with all this illness, what more did I have to offer?Could I even accept myself?

It seemed to be the only thing men wanted from me, like they could smell my insecurities a mile away. I think of men who prey on women like that now, with absolute disgust and doesn’t come without boatload of trust issues. My boyfriend during my diagnosis constantly berated disabled people. With my ability to work going out the window, so did my self worth.

As if dating with chronic illness isn’t difficult enough, obviously dating as a single mother makes it even more difficult for me to find true love. To even question if through sickness and death is real for me.

I once broke up with a boyfriend who gave me the good ol’ guilt trip of not enough sex.What really got me was it had only been two days since we were intimate, I was in intense pain as I was just diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my neck and started experiencing side effects from biologic Humira, mainly vertigo. As far as I am concerned, you have a hand, Palmela can take care of that. I knew then he wasn’t cut out for my life with chronic illness and kicked him to the curb. No more. That vulnerability I also kicked to the curb.

One time I told a tinder match about my arthritis, his response was “I guess a hand job is out of the question’, if you want a quick way to lose my attention, that might be it. Netflix and back rub? That’s more like it. The real Netflix and back rub, I’ll probably fall asleep within 15 minutes or squirm trying to cuddle.

It can’t always be take take take though. A relationship is a two way street and communication is key.

Not only do I want a good lover, I want a compassionate and understanding one. Preferably one who is excellent at massage, that’s my foreplay now.

Suns out guns out…

It’s very true, when the sun is out, I feel more active and feel a need to up my self care routine. And out come the selfies because maybe for the first time this week I had a chance to wear mascara and lipstick! Or a fancy bra! Lingerie is great, it helps make you feel sexy. If you can find arthritic hands friendly pieces. Even a little lace here or there over pjs all the time. Plus it can be light and airy, wonderful when your skin hurts from regular clothing. If searching for a bra with arthritic hands, go for a front do up one. Losing nearly 50 lbs also really helped me accept myself, chronic illness and all. I was there and believed I couldn’t do it, I took it day by day, goal by goal. Healthy choice by choice. Nothing is perfect but balance.

Set yourself free of the negativity, the best you can.

The key to a healthy sex life and arthritis is being active yourself and accepting there is no real key, every case of arthritis and relationship is different, life is a journey. Exercise will boost your endorphins, get that blood pumping and help loosen your stiff joints. Keep hydrated to WD 40 those joints, get comfortable and search around for the right positions with you and your partner. If you are single, or looking to spice things up but your hands are hurting, there’s plenty of toys out there. Ohh and marijuana is a great way to loosen up and pain calmer!

And remember, a positive attitude is sexy as hell!

Published by Chronic Eileen

Rheumatoid arthritis advocate, writer and speaker.