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Multiple Sclerosis and Women’s Sexual Health

What is it about MS that leads to sexual dysfunction? Let’s look at some of the pathways:

  • Interrupted messages. MS affects the central nervous system, particularly the myelin sheath – the protective coating found on all nerve cells. As a result messages that travel between the brain and other parts of the body can’t be transmitted properly. This means that if a woman is sexually excited, her brain might not “tell” her vagina that it’s time to lubricate in preparation for sex. She might find that she has less genital sensation. It’s also possible that her genitals could be more sensitive, to the point that it’s uncomfortable to be touched.
  • Other MS-related symptoms. While not related directly to sex, other aspects of MS can interfere with intimacy. For example, some women experience urinary incontinence and may feel anxious about leaking urine during sexual activity. Fatigue, muscle weakness, and spasticity can also be involved.
  • Psychological and emotional factors. Coping with MS can be tough. Women may feel depressed about the changes in their life and anxious about their future. They may feel less attractive to a partner. They may not know how to express their feelings and keep things bottled up, which can make them less interested or responsive to sex.
  • Hormones. The authors noted that MS symptoms may worsen right before menstruation.

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