Thursday, May 28, 2009

Primary Sexual Dysfunction in MEN with MS

The most common problems experienced by men are difficulty or inability to get or hold an erection, decreased genital sensation, rapid ejaculation, and difficulty or inability to ejaculate. Difficulty acquiring or maintaining satisfactory erections seems to be the most common male complaint in MS, with frequencies ranging from 25 percent to 75 percent of those surveyed.

Erectile Problems

In some cases it may be hard to tell what is causing the erectile difficulties. Demyelination may directly affect erectile function. Medications may also be factors. Stress and anxiety produced by living with MS may contribute to or even be the primary cause of erectile dysfunction. Understanding the mechanics may help you and your partner.

In the presence of sexual stimulation, nerves in the spongy tissue of the penis release the chemical nitric oxide, stimulation the production of something called cyclic GMP which relaxes the smooth muscle in the penis, compressing the veins. When this happens, blood flows in but cannot get back out, and an erection occurs. Drugs used to increase GMP include sildenafil (Viagra®), vardenafil (Levitra®), and tadalafil (Cialis®) All three drugs work by allowing an erection to occur when a man is adequately stimulated; they do not produce an erection in the absence of stimulation.

Additional Options Available

The vacuum tube and band device can be an effective alternative to medications. It consists of a plastic tube with a pump and band for the base of the penis. The tube fits over the penis. The hand pump produces vacuum pressure, and the band constricts the veins. This makes the penis fill up with blood, producing an erection. The tube is then removed. Because of its effectiveness and availability, the vacuum tube and band are widely used by men with MS.

Rest this post in its entirety:

Sexual Dysfunction in Men Living with Multiple Sclerosis


  1. May I suggest also a visit to a good urologist who can discuss intimacy matters, make suggestions, and help avoid trial and error which can be self defeating. The drugs used are different acting, do have side effects and should be used with doctor's advice. Be open with your partner and yourself. Thank you Lisa for this informative article.

  2. There you go, putting the FUN in dysfunction again.

    The physical and emotional barriers to traditional sexual intimacy that MS creates are quite often too difficult for couples to overcome. Lack of sensation and painful orgasm make receiving pleasure impossible. Lack of energy does the same for giving pleasure. In the end, given all the other daily challenges, the door closes on that part of one's life.

    However, creative and open-minded people will always find a way to open a window to something new and maybe just as satisfying. It does take a lot of effort and communication, though. The kind of communication that is usually not necessary after the first year or two of a relationship.

  3. Lisa, I am not a man, but appreciate the fact that you posted this information. I think it is hard for men to talk about this fact. I know as a woman with MS I suffer from the same thing (well, I guess not the exact same for obvious reasons) but some women with MS have the same problems. I wish there was more help for the women. I know that my husband suffers a lot because of this. I have been wondering about that new product they are advertising by KY called intense or extreme??? I saw it at the store and it was $25.00. I would love to here from someone in real life that has tried it. Before I buy it.

  4. Lisa,

    I remember stating a while ago someone needed to post about MS and Sex. I am glad I was able to catch up with my MS community today and read this post.

    We do have it easier than men because we do not have to worry about getting an erection.

    @Living day to day with MS

    Steve said it best:

    However, creative and open-minded people will always find a way to open a window to something new and maybe just as satisfying. It does take a lot of effort and communication, though. The kind of communication that is usually not necessary after the first year or two of a relationship. As for the KY products they DO WORK. I tried the “KY- His and Hers” during a test study trial and it was satisfying to me and my husband. Nothing has to change in the sex area just because we live with MS. Communication and creativity with your significant other is the key factor.

  5. Mary,
    Excellent reminder to consult the urologist in this area. That was something mentioned in the full article but not here. I hope that folks see your comment and follow through.

    You have said it best. Thank you for this. If you don't mind, I'd love to quote you in the 5th article of this series re: intimacy and relationships. You are wise, dear man.

    I'm so glad that you entered the conversation. This seems to be a very common symptom and one not much talked about. Between comments left here and at HealthCentral, we will collect a large body of knowledge to share and help each other with.

    I've not tried the "his-hers" KY gel, but have the "warming" version. It was just OK. My problem comes from dryness and the Liquid Silk version seems nice.

    Also, there are four more posts related to this topic, the final one which I've planned to be a "Sex Toys, Tips, and Tools" article. A collection of all the best ideas and suggestions.

    It is so very good to see you!!! Yes, we had discussed the need to discuss this topic. It took awhile to get my producer on board but here we are.

    Thank you for giving honest feedback on the KY product. If you have any more tips, I'd love to have them. :)

  6. For me it's more that it takes that last bit of me, the part we share when we are alone. MS was welcome to take my golf swing, but stay out of this part. It has changed the way we share intimacy, or express it, but it hasn't stopped it. Men and women have more in common in this one than it appears, and we both have to find what works, for no other reason than our partners.