Sexual health for men
Ways to overcome problems with sexual health
Sexual health problems are a typical scleroderma symptom for women. Most women with vulval and vaginal problems find them difficult to discuss. Be reassured that these difficulties are common - you are not alone.
'Sjögrens syndrome' or 'sicca syndrome' often accompanies systemic sclerosis. This causes dryness of the mucous membranes, typically leading to dry eyes and a dry mouth. The vagina can also be affected, and with less lubrication during arousal, sex can be uncomfortable, or even painful.
This is the usual reason for vaginal dryness in women with scleroderma.
However, it is important to exclude other causes such as the menopause or local infection as different treatments may be helpful for these. Occasionally the problem can be caused by other conditions such as lichen sclerosis et atrophicus that resembles morphoea - a type of localised scleroderma. Your GP or local well woman clinic will be able to help arrange the right tests and treatments for you.
If simple remedies have not proved helpful, you may need more help. Larger hospital gynaecology departments will have a “Vulval Clinic" where they can investigate the problem in more detail and consider the use of steroid ointments. You can ask your doctor for a referral to this.
Remember to be patient. If you have a problem that has been building up over a few years, it may need some time and care to correct it – but there are always ways of making things better.