Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lupus and Marriage

Dear Carla,

        My Girlfriend has been suffering from Lupus (SLE) for 3 years and she is about 18 years old.

        She was suffering from severe joint pain for a year. She has recovered much over the past 3 months, and now she is able to stand on her legs but can't walk.

        I just want to know: can a patient suffering from SLE get married?  Are there any problems that might occur in her married life in the futute? Or are there any problems caused to her reproductive system? Thank you.

and thank you for writing in.
I'm sorry to hear of the troubles your girlfriend is having.

Can someone with SLE get married?
Well, yes, anyone with a disability can get married.

Will there possibly be issues that come up that would not be there if the SLE were not there?
Yes. For starters, someone with a chronic painful disease is going to need support. Emotional and sometimes physical help doing things. You may want to consider visiting some lupus support groups if there are any in your area, so you can talk to some other spouses of people with lupus to find out how they handle being the partner of someone with a chronic illness.

What about sex? You didn't ask that specifically, but it is part of marriage, normally. Being in pain and exhausted can lower the desire. And also there can be discomfort for the woman that can be helped by a personal lubricant (for example, KY Jelly or Vagisil). Sorry if that's embarrassing, but it's an important issue.

Finally, regarding reproductive issues. It is possible to have children if you have lupus, but it is riskier. There are more miscarriages in women with lupus, and also sometimes being pregnant can cause the lupus to get worse. But there are women who have lupus who have successfully and joyfully had children. (Specifically, author Sara Gorman and blogger Christine Miserandino are both lupus patients who have successfully and happily had children after developing lupus themselves).

Because lupus causes fatigue, it would probably be wise for her to either have a job or to have children, but having both is probably too much stress to have and also to be healthy. Lupus is aggravated by stress.

I'm not clear as to whether she's being treated at all- is she on any medication? Is she under a doctor's care? Lupus doesn't just get better all on its own like the flu or a cold. It's a serious matter and she need to see a doctor regularly to get blood tests to make sure her internal organs are okay.

Finally, I want to encourage both of you to look into some dietary changes for her. Because it sounds like there hasn't been as much improvement as you'd like (she can't walk still), it would be worth trying an elimination diet for one week: have absolutely no gluten (nothing with any wheat or oats or rye) and no dairy (milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt). On day 8, eat a normal amount of gluten and dairy, and see how it affects you. If she feels better on days 3,4,5,6,7 and worse on day 8 and 9, you will know you can improve her health with this diet change. Being gluten-free and dairy-free has dramatically improved my health.

I've got a lot of information about the things I've done to improve my own health since being diagnosed with lupus in 1993. You can either read it in my book , or have a look at my blog .

I wish you both all the best-

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer

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