Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Understanding How MS Can Affect Sexual Function

Part One in a 6-part Series

SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION is a common and very distressing symptom that affects up to 70 percent of men and women living with multiple sclerosis. MS can affect sexuality, sexual functions, and expressions of intimacy both directly (referred to as primary sexual effects) and indirectly (referred to as secondary and tertiary sexual effects). The prevalence of sexual dysfunction is higher in MS than in other chronic diseases, and almost five times higher than in the general population. In this series of posts, we will be exploring sexual dysfunction in men and women, sexuality, intimacy, coping skills, and sex tips and toys.

Primary Sexual Effects

The central nervous system (CNS) makes sexual arousal possible; the brain, sexual organs, and other parts of the body send messages to each other along nerves that run through the spinal cord. MS-related damage to these nerve fibers can directly impair sexual feelings or sexual responses in the same way that damage in the CNS can affect a person’s ability to walk or see. And, just as with other aspects of MS, sexual problems can arise at any time, without any clear cause.

The primary sexual effects, which occur as a direct result of demyelination in the spinal cord or brain, include:
§ Decreased or absent sex drive.
§ Altered genital sensations such as numbness, pain, or hypersensitivity.
§ Decreased or absent genital sensations.
§ Decreased vaginal muscle tone.
§ Difficulty or inability to get an erection.
§ Decreased vaginal lubrication and clitoral engorgement.
§ Difficulty with or inability to ejaculate.
§ Decreased frequency and/or intensity of orgasms.

Read this post in its entirety:

Sexual Dysfunction and Multiple Sclerosis

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