Yes, sex can actually help reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It’s been discovered that during foreplay and sexual activity, the levels of the hormone oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, rise, endorphin levels increase and pain is actually reduced. It is also thought that during sexual arousal your adrenal glands release more cortisone into the body, and this higher cortisone level reduces inflammation resulting in lower pain levels in joints.
Along with theses there are other benefits of maintaining a healthy sex life.
Sex is a great stress relief - I wrote an article about fighting depression and in that article I mentioned one of the ways to overcome depression is to reduce stress loads. Sex has some key ingredients that make it extremely beneficial for easing stress. The combination of physical activity, emotions and intimate contact with someone else is a natural form of therapy that causes every part of our being to be uplifted.
Sex boosts your self-esteem - Quite often, people with arthritis can have a low self-esteem. Joint deformities, side effects of medication and limited mobility can easily create a poor self-image. Making love and having that physical and emotional connection with someone who desires and loves you, can help you feel better about yourself. It will cause you to feel more attractive, you’ll be motivated to take care of yourself and you will just simply feel good.
Sex helps you sleep better – Sleep is not always easy and can be difficult for someone living with arthritis. There are certain chemical releases that facilitate and appear to bring on sleep faster after sex, but the emotional and physical releases played out during sex also have a bearing on why it seems making love helps someone with arthritis sleep better. If for example, stress is relieved during sex, you will sleep better. If natural pain killers are released into the body while having sex, this again will help you to have a better nights rest.
Sex is a great exercise – Remaining active is critical for people with arthritis. Exercise can be dull and boring at times, so why not engage in an activity that is fun and brings many health benefits.
Now being realistic, I realize that for many people living with arthritis, this is easier said than done. Pain, mobility and touch may make it difficult or impossible. So how can you begin to enjoy sex and it’s benefits?
Pillow Talk – Begin by talking with your spouse about sex, describe intimate moments or activities that you would like to share with one another. Begin to make love with your minds, rather than worrying about getting your bodies involved.
Gentle Touch – A gentle and loving touch or caress from your spouse can bring excitement and arousal. Tell him or her where and how you want to be touched, let them know if something hurts and let them know when it feels good. Tip: Remember from the opening paragraph, it is during sexual arousal that cortisone is released; an orgasm is not necessarily needed. It may be that during pillow talk and the gentle touch; your body may become aroused and relaxed enough to tenderly engage in further sexual activity.
Experiment – As you live with arthritis, you will begin to be able gauge how your body responds and feels during the course of the day. Maybe you tend to feel good in the late afternoons or early evening; rather than having sex when going to bed, engage in it during the time of day you feel your best. Experiment with times and sexual positions as ways to improve your sexual relationship.
By adopting some of these things into your sexual routine a person with arthritis can enjoy a meaningful healthy sexual relationship that brings satisfaction to them and their spouse. So why not sit down tonight and talk it over, who knows what can happen. It could be fun! “WINK”