Puberty, relationships and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

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As your body develops, so will your mind. As you get older, you will make more complicated decisions for yourself. Some of these will be very important decisions. To help you manage this time in your life, it is important to ask questions and be as informed as possible. Take some time to read through the next section. If you have any questions about this information, you can always talk to your health-care team.

Puberty and JIA

The physical changes that you go through during adolescence are called puberty. These changes prepare your body to one day have children. Everyone experiences these changes differently. Some teenagers may notice the changes earlier, some later. Remember that puberty is natural and that the rate of your changes will be different from some of your friends. If you are very sick with JIA, it might delay these changes.

Relationships and JIA

Establishing and maintaining relationships are an important part of life. Being in a relationship sometimes involves being sexually active with your partner. This should be your choice and not something that you do because you feel you have to. Try to be open and honest with your partner about JIA and its effects on your body. You may want to talk with your doctor, nurse, or physiotherapist about relationships and sex. But if you’d rather talk with someone who isn’t providing your JIA care, ask for a referral to an adolescent health specialist. Some medications for JIA affect your immunity so it is important to protect yourself from diseases that are contagious, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some of these infections can be cured while others may stay in your body for a long period of time.

If you are considering having sex, talk to your doctor about how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

For more information, check out the following sites:

Go Ask Alice!:

Sexuality & U:

Teen Health Source:​

Last updated: January 31st 2017