Talking Sex with RA Patients

Rheumatoid arthritis patients need to talk more about sexual health with health professionals

(RxWiki News) The pain and stiffness caused by rheumatoid arthritis can wear you out. Some patients find that the disease even affects their sexual health. Unfortunately, these patients may not be getting all the help they need.

People with rheumatoid arthritis and their physical therapists rarely talk about the effects of rheumatoid arthritis on sexual health, even though physical therapy can improve the sexual health of these patients.

"Talk to your doctor about arthritis and your sexual health."

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain, fatigue, stiff joints, and reduced mobility. All of these symptoms can have an effect on a patient's sex life.

Physical therapy is designed to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. However, doctors and physical therapists do not communicate enough with their patients about the impact of rheumatoid on sexual health, according to a recent study by Kristina A. Josefsson, M.Sc., R.P.T., of Lund University in Sweden, and Gunvor Gard, R.P.T., of Lund University and Luleå University of Technology.

The researchers came to this conclusion through a questionnaire sent to rheumatoid arthritis patients at two rehabilitation centers in Sweden. The questionnaire - which was answered by 63 patients - asked patients about how their disease affected their relationships and sexual function. It also asked about their experiences with physical therapy and communicating with health professionals about sexual health.

Despite the fact that the majority of participants thought that pain and other rheumatoid arthritis symptoms were related to their sexual health, they rarely talked about that relationship with their doctors or physical therapists.

According to the authors, physical therapists need to keep in mind that pain, fatigue, stiffness, and physical capacity has an impact on sexual health and that physical therapy can help improve sexual health in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

"The impact of [rheumatoid arthritis] on sexual health is rarely discussed by health professionals and [rheumatoid arthritis] patients, and needs greater attention," the authors conclude.

The results of their study are published in the journal Musculoskeletal Care

Review Date: 
January 13, 2012