MS and Sex: Affects, Issues, and Treatment
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disabling neurological disease in which the immune system attacks the protective covering (myelin) of nerves. MS can cause pain, weakness, and cognitive issues.
Sex might not be the first concern that springs to mind after an MS diagnosis, but MS can lead to sexual dysfunction. The impact of MS on intimacy is highly personal, but understanding how MS affects men and women sexually can help you address problems as they arise.
This article discusses MS and how it affects sexual function, treatments for it, and more.
MS and Sex
For many people, MS and sexual dysfunction go hand and hand. About 63% of people with MS report that they have less sex than they did before their diagnosis. The disease’s physical, mental, and emotional impact and its treatments can make intimacy difficult. Luckily, there are solutions available.
Sexual function begins in the brain. For both men and women, arousal occurs when encountering stimuli. Then, the brain sends neurological messages through the spinal cord to the groin and sexual organs. MS can interfere with this process. People with MS may not experience arousal in the same way as before their MS diagnosis, or they may feel aroused but not respond physically.
In addition to the neurological impact, people with MS can experience other symptoms that make intimacy difficult. Feeling fatigued, being in pain, or experiencing complications like bladder dysfunction can reduce your desire for sex. Medications to treat MS can also impact sexual function.
Living with MS can take a toll on your physical and emotional health. You might not feel interested in sex because of the stress of living with the disease.
How MS Affects Men Sexually
Up to 91% of men with MS experience sexual disfunction. Most often, men with MS experience erectile dysfunction. Men may also experience:
- Reduced libido
- Reduced sensation
- Difficulty orgasming or ejaculating
How MS Affects Women Sexually
About 72% of women with MS experience sexual problems. The most common problem for women is difficulty orgasming. Other issues around MS and sex are common for women, including:
Sex is an important part of life. Treatments are available for MS and sexual dysfunction, so it’s important to know that you don’t need to give up your sex life. Speak with your healthcare provider about solutions for intimacy issues linked to your MS.
Anyone experiencing sexual complications from MS may benefit from counseling with a professional who knows about chronic disease and sex. Communicating openly with your partner, spending more time on foreplay, and even scheduling sex may help you get in the mood.
Treatments for Men
Men who experience erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems from MS can use pills, devices, and lifestyle changes to improve their sex lives. Treatments include:
Treatments for Women
Treatments for women generally focus on making sex more comfortable and satisfying. Treatments can include:
- Using lubricants
- Using a clitoral vibrator to increase stimulation and orgasms
- Experimenting with stretching routines and different sexual positions to reduce pain
MS can interfere with the neurological process that causes arousal and orgasm. Many men and women with MS have sexual symptoms, such as lack of desire, vaginal dryness, and erectile dysfunction. However, treatments are available, so talk with your healthcare provider about what might work best for you.
A Word From Verywell
Discussing your sex life can be uncomfortable, even when you’re speaking with someone you trust like your partner, healthcare provider, or counselor. However, open communication can help you address your worries or difficulties around living with MS and your sexual dysfunction. Remember, sex is an important part of life, and treatments are available to help you have a satisfying sex life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you take Viagra if you have MS?
Yes, people with MS can take Viagra and other medications to treat erectile dysfunction. Talk to your healthcare provider about the specifics of your case.
Does MS reduce sex drive in everyone with the condition?
No, MS doesn’t reduce sex drive for everyone. However, more than 90% of people with MS report sexual side effects.
Can people with MS have an orgasm?
Many women with MS and some men with the condition have trouble orgasming. Using a vibrator, experimenting with different positions, and increasing foreplay can help you reach orgasm.