Sexuality and Lupus
The constant pain and fatigue
associated with lupus may make it
difficult to cope with the physical and
emotional aspects of sex. In addition,
some medications used to treat lupus can
cause sexuality problems. Some of these
drugs may decrease your sex drive. Other
drugs may lessen sexual arousal or make
it difficult to achieve an orgasm.
Some people with lupus also have
a condition known as Raynaud's
phenomenon. Exposure to cold causes
spasms in the small blood vessels of the
finger and toes. This reduces blood flow
and may cause fingers and toes to turn
white or blue and numb. During sex, the
flow of blood increases to the genital area
and decreases to other areas of the body,
including the fingers. This can cause
the numbness and pain of Raynaud's
phenomenon to occur.
Other problems also can interfere with
sexual activity, such as oral and genital
sores, vaginal dryness, and yeast infections.
You may feel less attractive because of skin
rashes that are difficult to control.
Your partner may not understand the
changes in your desire, the fact that you
may feel unattractive, or the physical
problems you are experiencing. He or she
may think you are no longer attracted
to him or her. On the other hand, you
may feel your partner is avoiding you,
when he or she is trying to be sensitive
to your needs and is afraid of hurting you
or causing you more pain during sexual
These issues may be hard for you to talk
about. However, a mutual willingness to
have open and honest discussions with
your partner can play an important part
in understanding the issues that are
affecting your relationship. If the two
of you cannot resolve your problems
together, seek help from your doctor,
nurse, or a counselor experienced in
working with people who have lupus.
Caring for Yourself
- Keep a healthy attitude about
yourself. Being positive can play
an important part in maintaining
- If you notice a change in sexual
desire after starting a new
medication, tell your doctor or
- Ask your doctor if he or she can
prescribe an anti-inflammatory
or pain medication that you can
take before having sex.
- Be sure you are well rested.
Consider taking a nap just
before sexual activity.
- Relax and ease some of the pain
with a warm shower or bath just
before sexual activity.
- If you have Raynaud's phenome
non, increase circulation to your
fingers and toes by taking a
warm bath before sex. Raising
the temperature in the bedroom
will also help.
- If you have vaginal dryness, use
a water-based personal lubricant
- If you have a vaginal yeast
infection, call your doctor so
that he or she can prescribe
the medication you need. Yeast
infections are easily treated.
- If some physical problems make
certain sexual activity difficult,
don't be afraid to explore with
your partner other ways to
achieve mutual pleasure and
Source: National Institutes of Health, U.S.Dept of Health and Human Services