Sexual health in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: experiences, needs and communication with health care professionals

Musculoskeletal Care. 2012 Jun;10(2):76-89. doi: 10.1002/msc.1002. Epub 2012 Jan 6.


Pain, fatigue and decreased joint mobility caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often decrease sexual health in RA patients. Regular physiotherapy interventions in patients with RA are often aimed at improving those factors. The aim of the present study was to explore the experiences and views of patients concerning the impact of RA on their sexual health, the possible impact of physiotherapy interventions, and communication in clinical situations. A self-administered questionnaire was sent to patients with RA at two rehabilitation clinics in Sweden. The questionnaire included questions concerning the impact of RA on intimate relationships and sexual function, as well as experiences of physiotherapy and sexual health communication with health professionals. The questionnaire was answered by 63 patients. The majority of the patients thought that pain, stiffness, fatigue and physical capacity were related to sexual health. Communication between health professionals and patients about sexual health was less common, even if the desire for communication about sexual health was higher in this study than in other studies. The authors concluded that physiotherapists need to be aware that pain, fatigue, decreased joint mobility and physical capacity can affect sexual health and that physiotherapy can make a difference in sexual health in patients with RA. The impact of RA on sexual health is rarely discussed by health professionals and RA patients, and needs greater attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / etiology
  • Arthralgia / pathology
  • Arthralgia / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / rehabilitation
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / pathology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Health Communication*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physician's Role / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Quality of Life
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / diagnosis
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires