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Additional Things to Discuss with Your Doctor
Closely linked to the psychological effects of scleroderma are the impacts on sexual function, which affect both men and women.
Men with scleroderma may experience erectile dysfunction and women can experience physical symptoms that make sex difficult, such as pain, stiffness and vaginal dryness. All patients can experience fatigue, lack of sexual desire and changes to your body which may make you feel less confident in the bedroom.
There are solutions to all of these problems, including the use of special lubricants and referral to psychosexual counselling.
Even if your doctor doesn't ask directly, don't be afraid to tell them if you have concerns or questions.
Mental health and emotional distress
The effects of scleroderma are not only physical. Living with a chronic disease can be challenging and it's important to address the psychological side too.
It is estimated that at least 30% of people with a long-term health problem also have a mental health condition. Mental health discussions with your doctor should therefore be routine and there are a range of options available including counselling and CBT. In some cases, medications, such as anti-depressants, may also be useful.
If you are struggling to cope, speak up.