Maintaining intimacy between partners

Lupus Foundation of America

Resource Content

Intimacy can be challenging when you have lupus. Lupus and its treatments may cause changes in your physical appearance, and these changes -- whether skin rashes or lesions, hair loss or weight gain -- may affect your sense of your own desirability. Joint pain, mouth sores, vaginal ulcers and a decrease in lubrication from the glands can slow sexual responsiveness and make both foreplay and intercourse painful. Pain, fatigue, depression and certain medications can lower your interest in sex and intimacy. And, if the frequency and pleasure of intimacy and sex fade, the partner without lupus may feel hurt and confused, or even resentful and angry.

It is possible to keep intimacy and tenderness between partners. Good communication will help counter negative self-perceptions or feelings of rejection, and can keep an amorous spark alive even when sexual activity wanes. Physical adjustments, such as using pillows for support, finding less painful positions and applying lubricating ointments and creams, can relieve discomfort during sex. Taking a warm shower or bath can help relax sore muscles and joints, and anti-inflammatory medication may also provide relief. Sex aids can help promote a partner’s response to intimacy. Other forms of physical contact -- gentle massage, tender touching, a loving embrace -- can provide intimacy without intercourse. If problems persist, couples should consider seeking the help of a licensed therapist to help improve communication and offer suggestions.

Medically reviewed on