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Psoriasis and Intimacy: 6 Tips for Talking to a Partner

Talking to a new partner about psoriasis isn’t easy. Try these tips to make it a little easier.

Psoriasis and Intimacy: 6 Tips for Talking to a Partner

Many people with psoriasis will tell you that the disorder has a negative impact on their intimacy and sexual fulfillment. Symptoms like itching, pain, and visible skin lesions can cause physical discomfort as well as mental distress. Additionally, a significant number of psoriasis patients experience genital psoriasis, which means exactly what the description implies—psoriasis lesions on and around some of the most sensitive areas of the body.

However, it is still possible to enjoy a healthy sex life even if you have psoriasis, though it may take a little extra work in communicating with your partner. It can be a tough conversation to have, but it is important to be open and honest, and explain how psoriasis makes you feel and the limitations that psoriasis may cause when it comes to intimacy.

If your in a new relationship or a relationship that is starting to get a little more physical, the ideas below might help you when talking to a partner about psoriasis.

Understand the cause of psoriasis
It is important for your partner to understand that psoriasis is caused by an autoimmune disease, and that it is not an infection or contagious disease. It is also important for your partner to understand that psoriasis on the genitals may be different in appearance than psoriasis on other areas of the body. Answer any questions your partner has, and encourage them to do research.

Have the conversation earlier
Do not put off having a conversation about psoriasis. While it may not be a conversation for the first date, don’t wait until you’re about to have sex to tell your partner about it. When you’re ready to have the conversation, make sure you have enough time to talk about it and answer questions.

Choose the right location
As mentioned about, having this conversation may not be easy, and it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed about having it. Minimize that stress and anxiety by choosing a setting where you feel safe and comfortable—though you may want to avoid talking about it in the bedroom or other intimate settings.

Don’t neglect the emotional aspects of sex
Emotionally, psoriasis can be a difficult condition to manage. When you’re talking to your partner, make sure you discuss the emotional impact of the condition as well as the physical. People with psoriasis, especially genital psoriasis, sometimes report feelings of embarrassment and low self-esteem. Many avoid sex and relationships because of these feelings. It is important to have a partner that is sympathetic to your emotional vulnerabilities, and to express what those vulnerabilities are.

Discuss limitations—and possibilities
Chances are, at some point genital psoriasis may limit what you’re capable of enjoying on a given day. Make sure that your partner understands this. Also keep in mind other ways of sexual expression that may be possible on days when symptoms are flaring.

Communicate your needs
If you’re the one with the condition, you may feel like you’re a burden on the relationship. You may feel like you need to make it up to your partner, or be eager to show that it isn’t as much of an issue as it seems. Don’t forget about your own needs, feelings and pleasure—and make sure your partner knows what they are.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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