How To Talk To Your Doctor About Sex
Recently I have been attempting to start an open discussion about the potentially negative impact living with RA can have on your sex life. If you have experienced these negative impacts, please remember that you are not alone!
One important piece of advice about improving your sex life while living with RA is to talk to your doctor about the issue. Your doctor is the best person to help you get your pain and fatigue under control, which can obviously benefit your sex life. Your doctor can also help you deal with any potential side effects from the medications you are taking that may impact your sex life. The ability to have a healthy sex life is an important part of improving your overall well-being, a goal you and your doctor should always be working towards.
I also completely understand that it is totally easier said than done to bring up the intimate topic of sex with your doctor! But, for the sake of your own health and happiness, as well as the health of your relationship with your partner, it is very important to find the courage to talk with your doctor about this very personal issue. Here are some tips to get you started!
Prepare For Your Appointment
Before you even set foot inside your doctor's office, take some time to think about the intimacy issues that you think your doctor may be able to help with. Maybe you are too fatigued to even consider sex. Maybe pain is holding you back. Maybe a medication you are taking is causing reduced libido or vaginal dryness. Having a clear agenda for your appointment will make it easier for you to get past the embarrassment and get the help you need. It may even help to do some research in advance, as reading about your issue may help you find the language necessary to communicate more clearly with your doctor. Consider writing down your questions and concerns and taking your notes with you to your appointment to help you stay on track.
Initiate The Conversation
Your doctor can't help you deal with the problems you are facing in your sex life unless they are actually aware of the problem. And, unfortunately, if you don't bring up the issue your doctor may never ask. So before your doctor launches into his or her usual appointment routine, help set the agenda by initiating the conversation. You could say something like "I have some concerns about my sex life. Could we please take the time to discuss them today?" The best time to bring up this sensitive topic is when you are in a comfortable position. For example, you will feel less vulnerable if you are fully clothed and sitting in a chair, rather than wearing a gown on an exam table. If you find it truly impossible to bring up this issue to your doctor, you may want to consider showing up to your appointment with a list of written questions to give your doctor.
Be Involved In The Conversation
Be ready to listen to your doctor's advice and suggestions, but make sure you also express your interest in taking an active role to solve any issues you are having. Doctors can be one of the best sources of support and information, so be sure to ask follow-up questions, request advice, and solicit referrals if you think they would be helpful. Try to be as honest and direct as possible when answering your doctor's questions and avoid the temptation to shape your answers according to what you think your doctor wants to hear.
Don't Feel Embarrassed
First of all, you should never feel embarrassed about wanting to feel better or enjoy sex more! Sex is a very healthy part of being a human. And no matter what you have to say about your sex life, your doctor has probably already heard it before. A doctor's role is not to judge you. Instead, he or she should listen respectfully to your concerns and try to help you feel better. Informing your doctor about obstacles you are facing in your sex life will help him or her better support you overall. Even if you still feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about talking to your doctor, try to remember that being open and honest will only benefit you in the long run.
If Necessary, Consider A New Doctor
Every patient has a right to a doctor who respectfully listens to their concerns and attempts to address issues raised. If your doctor responds to your concerns in a judgmental way, or if at any point makes you feel uncomfortable, rushed, or ignored, it may be time to consider seeing a different doctor.
Your doctor can be a very valuable resource in helping you improve your sex life while living with RA. He or she knows the most about your condition, the medications you are taking, and their potential side effects. Your doctor may also be able to recommend alternative medications, adjust dosages, or even refer you to a specialist for additional help. Though it may be difficult, it can be very beneficial to open up to your doctor about this personal topic.
Has RA affected your sex life?
You know you have RA when [select all that apply in your experience]: