28-year-old woman with arthritis reveals how painful it is for her to 'make love'

28-year-old woman with arthritis reveals how painful it is for her to 'make love'

When most people think of arthritis, they tend to associate it with old people. Yet the reality is that arthritis can affect young people as well, and prove just as debilitating for them as it is for the elderly. One person who knows just how painful and crippling rheumatoid arthritis can be is 28-year-old hairdresser Kate Stallard. Her illness is such that she sometimes struggles to make love to her boyfriend, Karl.

Kate, from Cornwall in England, was just 16 years old when she was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, which causes her immune system to attack healthy tissue lining her joints. Back then, she was an active and sporty adolescent but noticed that her left knee would periodically swell up, making it difficult for her to straighten her leg.

At first, she went through surgery to remove what medics believed to be a build-up of fluid. However, when the pain rapidly spread to other joints, including her hips, wrists, shoulders and fingers, it became clear that she was actually disabled. Now the pain is so intense that Kate struggles to hold down a job.

An image of Kate Stallard and Karl Lovell. Credit: Press Association

Commenting on her condition in a recent interview, Kate stated: "There are obviously times when we have to adapt to where my pain might be on a particular day and try different sexual positions that are more comfortable for me. But it is always worth it and I think that it actually makes us closer in the bedroom, because working around the pain intensifies the pleasure of it all ... As my arthritis began to get worse stupid little things that I normally took for granted became impossible, like holding a pen or pouring sauce on my food.

"We were lying in bed one morning a couple of weeks into the relationship and suddenly I could feel a flare-up coming on. I tried to ignore it and pretend that nothing was wrong, but then as I got out of bed and stood up, I was just completely paralysed down my left side and couldn’t move an inch. And that’s when I explained about my arthritis. To my great relief, Karl was completely understanding about it."

An image of Kate Stallard. Credit: Press Association

She added: "There are times when I get paranoid and think that everybody must be staring at me, because my knee has swollen up, or because I’m having trouble moving. And that really makes me wonder what Karl could possibly see in me. Sometimes, I wonder if he wouldn’t be better off with someone normal who didn’t have all these problems."

In spite of the pressure that arthritis has placed on their relationship, Karl and Kate insist that they are very happy together. Kate is speaking out to encourage other people with her condition to contact Versus Arthritis, a charity dedicated to encouraging others not to suffer without support.