A man using a cane holds out a very large cut out of a male flexing

Men Get RA Too! - Some Of The Issues Men With RA Deal With

Men get RA too! I know this may be news to some of you, but it’s true. I mentioned on one of my recent videos that I was going to go into greater depth about some of the things that guys with RA go through, so here it is. Gotta keep my promises, after all.

Men are missing from rheumatoid arthritis messaging

First off, let me explain the reason why I felt compelled to write about the fact that men get rheumatoid arthritis also. You see, ten years ago or so, back during the time of Flappy Birds, Jersey Shore, and the impending end of the world in 2012, there were several prominent male voices on the Internet who were talking about RA. It helped to keep the balance with the plethora of female voices.

A few months ago, though, as I was Googling my daily dose of video game news, baby yoda memes and social media flotsam and jetsam, an ad came across my feed. It was a video for a rheumatoid arthritis biologic, and I noticed that it featured all women. “OK,” I thought, that’s not great, but not unheard of; companies tend to play to their biggest demographic which, when it comes to RA, is women.

Missing representation of RA experiences

I didn’t think any more about it that day, but what it did do was make me more cognizant of how much rheumatoid arthritis media is geared towards women. Articles, TV shows, ads, and even many of the blogging voices these days come from women. It finally culminated in a post from another outlet that listed ten RA blogs to watch in 2020, and every single one was an ambulatory woman within an age range of about 25 years. There wasn’t one male voice on the list (there wasn’t anyone with a wheelchair or other assistive ambulatory aid, either, but that’s another blog entirely).

Men make up 20-30% of people living with RA

This really got to me. I figured that they’d at least throw us a bone, give us one out of ten of the spots. I mean, men make up around 20-30% of the people who get RA – not a huge number, but t’aint nada!

This is when I decided my next video and post were going to be discussing some of the things that men with RA deal with. I know in this day and age it’s getting more and more taboo to discuss the differences between the sexes, but there are just certain things when it comes to chronic illness that men and women experience and deal with differently. That’s what we’re here to talk about today.

Are men less likely to discuss feelings or emotional issues?

Now, the reason there isn’t more male RA voices readily available for you to Google on up is actually one of the first things we are going to talk about – the fact that men are much less likely to talk about their feelings and especially what they perceive to be weaknesses. I know, I know, just like Grumpy Cat memes and Kevin Spacey, it’s not something we talk about much anymore, but it’s still a thing.

Yes, these days men are being taught more that it’s ok to have feelings, and even *gasp* express them, but there are still millions of us out there who grew up with the “John Wayne” method of having feelings – basically, if you couldn’t smoke it, kiss it, or punch it, you didn’t talk about it. My mother readily got told things like, “I think the problem with Daniel is a little too much mother.” Yeah? Too much mother swelled up my knees? Great! Mystery solved, I’ll call the New England Journal of Medicine.

Combating these stereotypes

Yes, I hear you screaming, “OK boomer!” I didn’t choose to be this way, trust me, and I write and create videos every day to combat this stereotype, but I still have that little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m a, err, … silly goose (language edited for family consumption) for talking about this stuff in public and moreover that I’ll never get a girlfriend now. Which brings us to the next big difference between men and women with RA – sex and the bedroom.

RA-related issues that men experience

Just a warning, some of the stuff we talk about next can be a little sensitive. Men, more so than women, are under pressure to perform when it comes to sex. There, I said it. Even worse, when a man doesn’t rise to the occasion, it can be extremely damaging to the ego and emasculating.

Difficulties with intimacy and dating

What does this have to do with RA, you ask? Well, in my situation I have a choice – take my pain meds and risk no libido, or don’t take my pain meds, and risk not being able to move in bed. Ever have sex with a statue? I don’t mean one of those Michelangelo perfectly sculpted David statues either – I mean one that looks like a half-blind guy with a mallet for a hand and a penchant for smooshing things tried to chisel the form of a man out of a block of dried Parmesan cheese. That’s the choice I have to make – cheese statue sex or boiled noodle sex.

Both awful, both potentially traumatic, so I have to find a happy medium by dosing myself exactly the right amount at the exact right time and it’s still a crapshoot. No matter how forgiving a new partner is, if you strike out the first time up at the plate there is a very slim chance you’ll get another at-bat. Yay dating. There’s no such thing as a man faking, either. I mean, you can, but it would be really, really, really, weird.

Encouraging more men to talk about their RA experience

There are marked differences between men and women when it comes to chronic illness and RA. There’s no getting around it, and we’ve just scratched the surface. Trust me, we haven’t finished talking about this and in the meantime, I encourage all men who have RA to speak out and speak up, and let the world know what it’s like for us. Now, though, I have to go and find a baby yoda meme about men with RA. So damn cute… Talk soon.

 

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