How MS Might Affect Sexuality
Last week we discussed various sexual dysfunction prevalent among people with MS.
This week I want to expand on the various factors that might affect sexual function.
Sexuality is influenced by physiological, psychological, cultural, and social factors – all of which are directly or indirectly affected by MS.
MS is characterized by lesions in the cerebral cortex and the spinal cord that can lead to numbness in the genitals, decreased vaginal lubrication in women, and difficulty getting or maintaining an erection in men.
Among people with MS, secondary factors do not result directly from the lesions but rather from the MS symptoms, such as fatigue, spasticity, pain, bladder, and bowel problems.
Psychosocial factors may include depression, self-confidence, and body image issues.
All these factors might affect relationships, intimacy, and sex.
For example, when a woman experiences vaginal dryness, it is important not to suffer in silence. Since dryness can cause painful intercourse, if not discussed, the other party will not understand why the woman is not interested in having sex, leading to frustration and problems in the relationship.
The woman, who experiences a decrease in sexual desire and a blow to her self-confidence, might experience distress and a diminished quality of life.
Receiving a recommendation from your healthcare team for water-based lubricants can easily solve the problem.
If a man has problems reaching orgasm, you can discuss sexual fantasies, prolonged foreplay, oral sex, different positions, and introducing different sex toys.
Despite the embarrassment that sometimes accompanies intimate difficulties, it is highly desirable to overcome the awkwardness and talk about it.