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HomeHealth articlessexual healthWhat Is the Impact of Ankylosing Spondylitis on Sexual Well-Being?

Ankylosing Spondylitis and Sexual Well-Being - Impact and Management

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Ankylosis spondylitis significantly impacts sexual wellness, causing pain, stiffness, and limited mobility and potentially reducing sexual desire.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ramchandra Lamba

Published At November 29, 2023
Reviewed AtNovember 29, 2023

What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Axial spondyloarthritis, another name for ankylosing spondylitis, is an inflammatory condition that leads to the fusion of affected vertebrae or spinal bones. This fusion causes postural problems and reduces the spine's flexibility. It may be challenging to breathe deeply if the ribs are impacted. When ankylosing spondylitis worsens, the body attempts to heal by forming new bones. The newly formed bone eventually joins vertebral segments by progressively filling the spaces between the vertebrae. The spine's natural curvature may be flattened by fused vertebrae, resulting in a rigid, hunched posture. It could also affect the knees, shoulders, and hips, among other body areas. Ankylosing spondylitis significantly impacts a person's quality of life, but with early diagnosis and adequate care, people can have happy, fulfilling lives.

What Are the Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis?

The symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include swelling in the body, stiffness, and back pain during the day, which frequently worsens at night. Moreover, the hips, ribs, and knees could be affected. The inflammation may lead to the fusion of the spinal ligament and discs (spinal tissues), resulting in a stooped posture and limited range of motion. Lack of energy and drowsiness can result from fatigue. Redness, pain, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision can all be symptoms of eye inflammation, such as uveitis or iritis.

What Is the Impact of Ankylosing Spondylitis on Sexual Well-Being?

Sexual wellness can be significantly impacted by ankylosis spondylitis. It may be difficult to have sex when the muscles are in pain, stiff, or have limited mobility. Ankylosing spondylitis patients claim to experience less desire and enjoyment in their sexual lives. Furthermore, having a chronic illness may also cause psychological implications for an individual's ability to have healthy sexual relations. Difficulties in sexual relationships can be attributed to sadness, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

What Are the Common Sexual Problems Associated With Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is linked to a number of chronic sexual issues. Sexual activity may be impossible or very difficult to perform when an individual is in pain, has stiffness, or has limited movement. In addition, ejaculatory and erectile dysfunction are more prevalent among ankylosing spondylitis patients. Women who have ankylosing spondylitis may feel pain during sexual activity or have trouble getting an orgasm.

What Are the Psychological and Emotional Effects of Ankylosing Spondylitis on Sexual Well-Being?

An individual's ability to engage in sexual activity may be severely hampered by the chronic condition, both physically and psychologically. Inflammation, discomfort, and stiffness are examples of physical symptoms that can affect sexual performance. These symptoms can also cause sleep disruptions and a loss of spinal mobility.

Living with Ankylosing spondylitis can psychologically cause feelings of anxiety and sadness, which are made worse by physical limits and suffering. A decline in self-esteem and a drop in pleasure with an individual's sexual life might result from the loss of libido combined with decreased function, pain, weariness, and stiffness. Getting assistance from a healthcare professional is imperative to address these issues, as these consequences might differ significantly among individuals. Healthcare providers can offer guidance and resources to aid with these difficulties.

How Does Ankylosing Spondylitis Affect Communication and Intimacy in Relationships?

Intimacy and communication are essential elements of a successful relationship. When a partner has Ankylosing spondylitis, it is critical to be transparent and honest about how the illness affects an individual's ability to have sexual relations. This may assist in lessening confusion and annoyance. Beyond sexual action, intimacy can also take many more forms. Spending quality time together, holding hands, and cuddling can all contribute to a stronger relationship between partners.

What Are the Tips for Improving Sexual Well-Being With Ankylosing Spondylitis?

There are various recommendations for enhancing sexual health when living with ankylosing spondylitis. Sex can be more comfortable by experimenting with different positions, using pillows or other props for support, and doing light stretching exercises. In addition, reducing pain and stiffness before sexual engagement can be achieved by applying heat therapy or using pain medication.

What Are the Treatment Options for Sexual Problems Caused by Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis can be treated with medicine, physical therapy, and psychiatric counseling. Drugs that help improve sexual performance include anti-inflammatory drugs, disease-modifying therapies, and biological injections or infusions. Ankle spondyloarthritis and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis are two prevalent conditions treated with Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen sodium. Doctors may recommend interleukin-17 (IL-17) inhibitors or Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) blockers if NSAIDs are ineffective. Enhancing mobility and controlling pain with physical therapy can lead to better sexual function. For people with Ankylosing spondylitis, psychological support services like counseling or therapy might be helpful. It is crucial to have open and honest conversations regarding sexual problems with medical professionals to offer guidance and resources for overcoming these challenges.

What Are the Available Support and Resources for Individuals With Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Although managing Ankylosing spondylitis can be difficult, it is crucial to remember that it is not managed alone. For those affected by Ankylosing spondylitis, both individuals and couples, plenty of resources are accessible. Counseling programs, online forums, and support groups can all offer helpful direction and assistance. Medical experts can also assist in providing information and treatment choices for sexual issues brought on by ankylosing spondylitis.

What Are the Coping Strategies and Self-Care for Maintaining Sexual Well-Being With Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Maintaining sexual well-being with ankylosing spondylitis can be facilitated by several coping mechanisms and self-care practices in addition to seeking treatment. Pain and stiffness can be lessened with regular exercise, relaxation training, and adherence to a nutritious diet. Furthermore, people may lessen the stress and anxiety associated with having sex by being upfront and honest with their partner and having reasonable expectations.


It might be challenging to live with Ankylosing spondylitis, but it is vital to remember that having this illness does not have to prevent people from having a happy and fulfilled sexual life. Couples and individuals affected by Ankylosing spondylitis can continue to have fulfilling and healthy relationships by learning how the condition affects sexual health, getting treatment, and practicing self-care. It is advised to remember that connection and communication are essential to any successful relationship, and living with Ankylosing spondylitis is the same.

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Dr. Ramchandra Lamba
Dr. Ramchandra Lamba



sexual healthankylosing spondylitis
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