Not only can rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have sex - surprising as that may seem to those in constant pain - but also the very act of sex, doctors have discovered, seems to provide relief from pain in severe cases.
There are about 20 million people with arthritis in the United States, and the majority of them are women. As anyone with severe arthritis knows, the disease attacks, and sometimes destroys, the body's joints, particularly in the knee, hip and lower back. The joints stiffen, and the pain can become almost intolerable. A sufferer usually shuns sexual intercourse because it's extremely painful for the hips, legs and back.
Unfortunately, most doctors have not generally been very helpful to the victims of arthritis when it comes to the topic of sex. But arthritis experts and the Arthritis Foundation are increasingly getting the word out: Sex is good for it.
After interviewing hundreds of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, Dr. George E. Erlich, an arthritis specialist in Philadelphia, found that 70 percent of the victims reported they experienced less arthritis pain after sex. It's suspected that the reason the pain abates is that sexual arousal stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more cortisone in the body, and cortisone reduces inflammation - the cause of pain in the affected joints.
Because sexual arousal is the key, actual intercourse is not necessary to get relief from arthritic pain. Sexual stimulation of any kind seems to lead to the production of cortisone - and the chance for suffers to go from agony to ecstasy.
About the Author: Robin Westen is the author of Relationship Repair (Sterling, January 2011)
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