What is lupus?
Yes. Lupus is not contagious, and you cannot give or get lupus from oral sex. Some people find that lupus makes sexual intercourse painful or difficult and prefer to have other kinds of intimate experiences like oral sex. Ultimately, the choice is yours. If you choose to, you should still take precautions to protect against sexually transmitted diseases, though.
Lupus is a long-term autoimmune disease that happens when your immune system attacks your skin, joints, and internal organs like your heart or kidneys. This attack causes inflammation in your tissues and can lead to organ damage and pain. There are different forms of lupus, but the most common type is called systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE.
How does lupus affect sex?
Lupus can affect sex in different ways. You might find that the disease itself causes physical symptoms that make sex uncomfortable. These can include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Mouth sores
- Cold and numb hands and feet
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal ulcers
- Trouble having an erection or orgasm
Living with chronic pain and tiredness can make you lose interest in sex. It can also be difficult to find a position that doesn’t hurt and to find energy to last during sex. Lupus medications can also lower your sex drive.
Lupus affects your emotional health, too, and can lead to negative body image, low self-esteem, mood changes, depression, and anxiety. Body changes are common, from weight loss and weight gain to hair loss and rashes, which can cause distress. You might feel uncomfortable in your sexuality or be worried about how your partner sees you. This can make sex challenging.
Lupus, sex, and relationships
Lupus can affect sex and your relationships. You might find it hard to connect with your partner, or your partner might feel worried about your health and whether you’re in pain. You might both feel resentment, blame, anger, or stress, especially during a flare.
Talking about your feelings and what you need and exploring new ways for intimacy can help your relationship. This can include oral sex, mutual masturbation, different positions, and sex toys.
Tips for having oral sex with lupus
Oral sex includes using your mouth and tongue to stimulate the penis, vagina, or anus. There are some things you can do to help make it safe and comfortable.
Lupus isn’t contagious. You can’t catch lupus or pass it to someone else during oral sex, but you can get other diseases like chlamydia.
To protect yourself, use a:
- Condom for penis stimulation
- Dental dam for vaginal stimulation
- Dental dam for anal stimulation
- DIY dental dam by cutting off the tip of a condom and cutting it open into a sheet
If you have chronic pain and tiredness or a low libido, use touch and massage to help you become aroused. Cuddling, stroking, and kissing can all help you get into the mood, even for oral sex. Using lubrication can also help vaginal dryness and increase pleasure.
Take a shower
A warm bath or shower can help your muscles and joints relax. This can help relieve pain and make it more comfortable to have sex.
Choose to disclose
Since lupus isn’t a sexually transmitted disease and isn’t contagious, it’s your choice whether you tell a new or short-term partner about having lupus. Lupus can cause vaginal ulcers and mouth sores, though. It’s possible your partner might be concerned, in which case you might want to tell them about your health condition.
Sores from lupus can also cause pain. You might want to wait to have oral sex until they heal, but make sure to talk to your doctor about treatment.
Take a pain reliever
If you tend to have joint and muscle pain after oral sex, in your jaw or other joints, take a pain reliever before sex. Try an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain reliever like ibuprofen one hour before sex.
Make yourself comfortable during oral sex. Ask your partner to position themselves so you don’t have to hold your body in an uncomfortable position for a long time. For example, have your partner kneel to receive while you sit and give. If you’re receiving, try sitting on a counter and leaning against a wall, or on the bed propped against a headrest.
You can also use pillows. If you’re kneeling, place them under your knees. Prop your body with pillows under your back, head, and arms for support while you receive oral sex.
Lupus can change your sex and relationships. Generally, it doesn’t change your physical ability to have sex, but it can make it harder. Having oral sex can be another great way to enjoy a healthy and satisfying sex life.
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Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital: "Lupus and Intimacy."
CDC: "How to Use a Dental Dam," "Lupus Symptoms," "STD Risk and Oral Sex."
Hospital for Special Surgery: "Lupus, Sexuality and Intimacy."
Lupus Foundation of America: "Can I have a normal sex life with lupus?" "Is lupus contagious?" "What is lupus?"
University of Florida Health: "Oral Sex & You: What you need to know to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)."
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