New research addresses taboos around the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on patients' sex lives


"Today's findings indicate the need for increased attention on effect of rheumatoid arthritis on sexual activity as well as reveal that sexual problems should be addressed as part of the general health care given to RA patients," explained Ylva Helland, department of Rheumatology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway. "The complexity of the issue requires a broad and multi-disciplinary approach by health personnel to ensure patients are not limited in their ability to have sex".

Rheumatoid arthritis has a wide ranging impact on patients' health, causing multiple medical, physical and psychological problems, all of which have the potential to impair patients' ability to conduct everyday tasks that others take for granted. In this light, whilst it would seem logical that considerable prevalence of sexual problems exist amongst rheumatoid arthritis patients, research in the area of sexuality has been limited.

The subject of sexuality and RA also features within a separate EULAR speaker session, which amongst other things focuses on the approaches that healthcare professionals can take when discussing sexuality with RA patients, peer group liaison to prompt discussions around improving / continuing patient sex lives with RA, as well as examples of different sexual positions to prevent joint pain and damage.

"Sexuality and arthritis is still very much a taboo subject patients aren't sure who to speak to about worries with regards to RA and their sex lives and healthcare professionals seldom discuss the issue with their patients" explained C. Ziegler, project manager of the Danish Rheumatism Association. "Forums such as the EULAR congress provide a platform for discussion and debate, enabling patients and healthcare professionals to benefit from shared learning and experience" she continued.

Ylva Helland, a nurse and a research fellow, received one of the 12 abstract awards at this congress.


Contact: Mia Gannedahl
European League Against Rheumatism

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