Sexual dysfunction is the outcome of various physiological and psychological factors. If you are suffering from multiple sclerosis, your sex life can be affected as a direct consequence of how this disease affects your neurological functions and indirectly through associated symptoms and medicines. MS damages the nerve pathways through which your brain sends arousal signals to your sex organs. This is a direct impact. Indirectly, the medicines prescribed for multiple sclerosis and the associated symptoms—depression, fatigue, bladder symptoms, reduced confidence and self-worth, damaged body image—affect your sexual desire, arousal and performance.
HOW ARE WOMEN AFFECTED?
Well, the pathway of sexual arousal gets damaged in both men and women with MS, but the difference lies in the symptoms they both go through in their genitals. Women suffering from MS generally report loss of libido, thanks to the hormonal imbalance this disease inflicts on them. Also, fatigue, muscle spasms, and shooting pain in the face or other parts of the body (symptoms of MS) can make a woman incapable of having sex. Also, damaged nerve pathways can create numbness in the sexual organs preventing the clitoris from being stimulated. Additionally, multiple sclerosis can reduce vaginal lubrication making it difficult to have intercourse.
HOW ARE MEN AFFECTED?
According to a study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology, “The most common complaints of sexual dysfunction in men with MS are erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory dysfunction and/or orgasmic dysfunction, and reduced libido.” Research also suggests that multiple sclerosis affects the sex life of more than half of the male population suffering from the condition, up to a certain extent.
Like women, men with MS also face reduced or loss of sexual desire because of low self-confidence. Apart from this, MS symptoms like fatigue, stress, and depression can also impact the sexual desire. Also, pain and spasm can make them uncomfortable or unable to get intimate. In fact, sometimes the fear of symptoms like losing bladder or bowels control can make men anxious and take away their desire for love making. These outcomes of multiple sclerosis can also be the culprits behind the inability of men to reach orgasm and ejaculate.
Additionally, the nerve pathway damage done by MS can lead to delayed or blocked flow of arousal signals from the brain to the sex organs. This can further result to erectile dysfunction as arousal signals to the penis are delayed or blocked.
GETTING BACK YOUR SEX LIFE While it may be difficult to find solutions for MS-related sexual problems, there are certain things you can do for sure to improve the condition to some degree.
Talk to your doctor about medicines Several MS drugs can lead to sexual impairment in both men and women. However, some adjustments in drug dosage and timings may help. Talk to your doc about it. If he has prescribed an anticholinergic to control bladder problem, he may advise you to take it 30 minutes prior having intercourse. This will reduce bladder contractions and prevent urinary leakage during sex. In case you are taking drugs for fatigue, taking them an hour before having sex can be a good idea. It will ensure that your energy level remains at its peak at the right time. If you have been recommended injectable disease-modifying medications, discuss with your doctor about coordinating the shot timings in a way that their side-effects become less likely to cause any problem while you are involved in sex. Antidepressants, which are prescribed to MS patients are also known to cause sexual impairment. Consult your physician about their dosage. Small tweaks in medication can are likely to improve your condition.
Communicate with your partner MS poses a host of physical challenges that negatively affect your quality of life. They restrict your ability to move, take a toll on your confidence and lead to depression. All these affect your sex life among other aspects of life. You the desire, energy and confidence to be intimate with your partner. This is a problem that deserves an open discussion. An open conversation with your partner about the sexual issues you are going will help your partner help you in boosting your urge. Keeping the problem to yourself may, on the other hand, create a rift in the relationship.
Change your approach towards sex Sometimes, focussing on the sexual performance that includes ejaculation and orgasm can actually get in the way of the romance. Romance is an undeniably important component of a couple relationship. Don’t compromise on it. Up your romance quotient by small acts of mutual caring. Simply holding hands, cuddling and having a romantic can do the trick. Stop focussing on penetration and try to see sex as a pleasurable experience. This change in approach may help you tackle the problems of delayed or loss of ejaculation. Also, masturbating may help stimulate your sex organs. If you are facing erectile dysfunction, consult your doctor. He will prescribe you drugs to treat this condition.
Explore realistic ways to make sex possible If having sex in a certain position seems painful, try a different one. In case you are facing any discomfort or issues with vaginal lubrication, you may use a water-based vaginal lubricant. Problems like numbness or impaired sensation in the vaginal area, on the other hand, can be tackled by foreplay.
Figure out how you’ll like to be touched Seek help from your partner in order to explore your changed sexual sensations. Ask him or her to touch different parts of your body to help you understand how you feel in each of them. This process will help you spot the locations that arouse you and the ones that don’t, anymore. Additionally, you can ask your significant other to touch your body parts using different motions, pressures and pace. This will help you figure out what your comfort and discomfort zones. This whole exercise will improve your sex life for sure.
Work out and socialise Lack of muscle strength, depression and low confidence levels are known to be the prominent culprits behind an MS patient’s sexual dysfunction. Exercise will strengthen your muscles while staying in touch with your close ones will rev up your confidence and self-esteem.