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About Two-Third of MS Patients Have Sexual Problems

About Two-Third of MS Patients Have Sexual ProblemsMany people with multiple sclerosis (MS) also face sexual challenges. In fact, a recent study of MS patients found that 64% had sexual problems, and for many, sexual dysfunction was associated with poorer MS disability and depression symptoms.

The study, published last summer in the International Journal of MS Care, involved 162 MS patients who filled out an assessment tool called the MS Intimacy and Sexuality Questionnaire. The participants’ average age was 46 years and almost 78% were women.

MS is a neurological disease that impairs the central nervous system, particularly the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells. When this happens, messages between the brain and other body parts can’t be transmitted efficiently or completely.

As a result, men might develop erectile dysfunction (ED), as the brain cannot “tell” the penis about sexual stimulation and trigger an erection. Similarly, women may have trouble with vaginal lubrication if the message that triggers arousal is lost in the process.

Both men and women might find they have less interest in sex, too. And orgasms might become difficult to achieve.

Other aspects of MS can affect sexual function as well. For example, fatigue, stress, and anxiety can lead to sexual difficulties.

Unfortunately, healthcare providers don’t always discuss sexual health with their patients. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to speak up. Sexual problems can be treated. Your doctor can also refer you to sex therapy, if needed.


International Journal of MS Care

Domingo, Samantha, PsyD, et al.

“Factors Associated with Sexual Dysfunction in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis”

(Abstract. July-August 2018)

International Society for Sexual Medicine

“How might multiple sclerosis affect a person sexually?”

Multiple Sclerosis News Today

Pinto, Diogo

“Sexual Problems Common Among MS Patients But Often Ignored, Study Reports”

(September 6, 2018)