Rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases in USA  cause half of the cases of permanent incapacity for work and yet early detection and treatment could prevent this situation.

These diseases also cause around 25% of sick leave at work, which has a huge impact on the loss of working hours a year. They are also a huge effort in health spending and the aging of the population is expected to lead to a greater impact.

However, the greatest impact is for you and your environment (your friends, your family), so it is a priority to improve the care you receive, get involved in your treatment and knowledge of your disease, and favor any activity or service that contributes to prolonging your well-being and slowing down the progression of the disease.

Rheumatic disease and relationships

A study on the impact of rheumatoid arthritis in relationships revealed that 4 out of 10 patients believe that the disease makes it more difficult to meet someone or start a relationship. Of the respondents, 2 out of 10 stated that the disease had been a cause for their divorce or separation.

More information: 55% of the respondents considered that rheumatoid arthritis affects the confidence they have when having sex, and 31% stated that it is difficult to explain their needs about this issue to their partners.

Perhaps most worryingly, 21% of the people surveyed considered that the disease makes it more difficult to maintain relationships to the point that in some cases they end completely.

Don’t hesitate to ask a specialist for help!

If you consider that the disease may be affecting your relationships, do not hesitate to go to your doctor and discuss the situation to address the problem in time.

Rheumatic disease and sexuality

Sexuality is part of the patient’s global quality of life, and as such is included in its definition by the World Health Organization, along with other components such as health, pain, energy, sleep and rest.

Sexual intercourse has very positive effects for our health, since they release endorphins, improving pain, sleep and mood, and also reduce the risk of some diseases.

For this you have to “change the chip” and remember that the body is not always an enemy, a source of pain … it is also a friend, a source of pleasure.

The most important sexual organ is the brain. The brain is blocked by fear of pain, by tension and stress, by anxiety, sadness or anger, and it does not let us perceive the good sensations that our body receives, so we must train it in enjoyment little by little.

More than half of patients with rheumatic diseases have some kind of difficulty in their sexual relationships.

There are possible physical causes (pain, fatigue, limitation of movements …), psychological and also pharmacological that can negatively influence the couple and sexual relations.

I want to have children. Can I have them if I have rheumatoid arthritis?

Today people with rheumatoid arthritis have the same chances of conceiving as the rest, and share the difficulties to achieve it: one in five couples in the western world has problems in this regard that are not linked to rheumatoid arthritis. It is true that the fertility rate is lower in couples in which the person suffers from this disease but it is mainly due to not knowing how to cope with it (lack of information), or not addressing the issue adequately with specialists.

In a study carried out in USA with 101 women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, it was found that:

  • 7 out of 10 considered the fact that the disease is a conditioning factor for having children
  • 6 out of 10 said they were afraid that rheumatoid arthritis would worsen during pregnancy.
  • 5 out of 10, feared transmission of rheumatoid arthritis to their children.
  • 4 out of 10 acknowledged being concerned about the limitations they may have when caring for their children.

Talking about these aspects with the specialists, really knowing what the true scope of the disease is and its evolution will help a lot to make the decision to have children without fear.

Family planning

Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, it is very important to talk to the rheumatologist before planning a pregnancy if you are taking rheumatoid arthritis medication. The doctor will be able to help you plan the pregnancy properly and adjust the treatments.

Me, my family, rheumatoid arthritis

The family environment also receives the diagnosis as bad news, but the more time and space we dedicate to the contrasted information, the less free space we will leave to fears and misguided advice or stereotypes.

Try not to isolate yourself from your family, keep a fluid communication about your feelings and those of your children, your partner or your friends. If you need psychological help, say so and look in patient associations for all the information and support to face a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis with all the resources at your fingertips.

Think that many thousands of people have already gone through the same as you, with your same doubts and concerns, so take advantage of all that knowledge so that nothing takes you away from who you love most.

Plans with family or friends may need to be tailored to your breaks and needs. But you must think that this adaptation does not happen either by forcing you to make efforts that you do not want or for others to have to stay without visiting a city or do any other activity that interests them to maintain your resting rhythm. Again, smooth and confident communication. If you are visiting a city, while others walk its streets you may prefer to rest on a bench under the shade of a tree while reading or simply enjoy the atmosphere.

My job, my rheumatoid arthritis and me

Certain jobs where physical effort is great or certain joints are used repeatedly can aggravate or cause injury. If this is your case, find out about your rights and the options you have to adapt your job so that you can maintain your work activity normally. In cases where the diagnosis was not early enough to prevent joint injury, you may need to apply for a disability, either temporary or permanent.

It is possible that you can also request a certificate in your autonomous community that allows your company tax breaks and aid to adapt your job to conditions that allow you to perform your tasks in optimal conditions.

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