Background Women and men with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) experience restrictions in everyday life in spite of the development of new medications. Recent research has described in detail how participation limitations are experienced in everyday life from a patient perspective. However, knowledge of how sex and intimate relationships are affected is still scarce.
Objectives The aim of this study was to explore sex life experiences in relation to sexual function and sexual relationships in women and men with early RA.
Methods This study is part of the Swedish TIRA-project (the Swedish acronym for the prospective multi centre early arthritis project). The data collection includes 45 interviews with 24 women and 21 men, aged 20–63, which were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Critical Incident Technique was used to collect data, and content analysis to categorize the results.
Results Half the participants stated that RA affected their sex life. The general descriptions formed five categories: sex life and tiredness, sex life and aging, emotional consequences of impaired sexual function, facilitators of sexual function and sexual relationships, and strain on the sexual relationship.
Conclusions Sex life is still affected in early RA despite new effective treatment strategies. New strategies of communication, assessment and self-managing interventions concerning the sex life of patients with RA need to be implemented multi-professionally in health car
Disclosure of Interest None declared