Multiple Sclerosis (MS) And Sexual Dysfunction: Symptoms And Treatments

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Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team
Published on August 08, 2022

Did you know that about 90,000 Canadians live with multiple sclerosis (MS)?

On average, about three men are diagnosed with the disease every day. MS is unpredictable, often arising in a pattern of relapses and remissions. Progressive forms of multiple sclerosis as studies indicate can cause various symptoms, including sexual dysfunction.

If you have multiple sclerosis and sexual dysfunction, you may feel less interested in having sex or find it hard to get an erection and ejaculate during sexual contact. This can affect your quality of life, self-esteem, and well-being. However, most sexual function issues caused by multiple sclerosis can be treated.

Below is a guide that explains the link between multiple sclerosis and sexual dysfunction. Some of the issues we will highlight include:


What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

MS is an autoimmune condition affecting the central nervous system. This means the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, which protects nerve fibres. This leads to inflammation. The disease mainly affects:

  • Brain stem
  • White matter in the brain
  • The cerebellum controls balance and syncs movements
  • Optic nerves
  • Spinal cord

As the nerve fibres get damaged, brain electrical impulses don't flow seamlessly to the nerves in the other body areas. This makes it difficult to perform some essential functions.

The Multiple Sclerosis and Sexual Dysfunction Connection

Your central nervous system plays a vital role in sexual function and stimulation. When you're sexually stimulated, impulses from nerves in your brain and penis are responsible for stimulating blood flow. This allows you to get and maintain an erection.

Since multiple sclerosis affects the function of your CNS, it may damage nerves associated with erectile response. As a result, nerve messages from the brain and penis don't flow well, leading to erectile dysfunction.

You may not be able to get erections that happen in response to visual cues since MS can cause optic nerve inflammation. Moreover, it may be hard to get erections from genital stimulation due to nerve damage in the spinal cord and brain.

How Do You Know If You're Experiencing Sexual Dysfunction Due to MS

If you are experiencing sexual dysfunction as a result of multiple sclerosis, you may experience related symptoms. These include: 

  • Reduced sex drive
  • Decreased sexual arousal
  • Inability to get or maintain an erection
  • Changes in genital sensations such as numbness, pain, or hypersensitivity
  • Delay in or absence of attaining orgasm and anorgasmia
  • Less intense orgasms
  • Ejaculatory difficulties like premature ejaculation
  • Constant fatigue that hinders your motivation to engage in sexual activity
  • A poor self-image that affects your confidence when it comes to sex
  • Experiencing bladder or bowel problems during sex
  • Feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress that can disrupt the sexual pleasure
  • Spasticity symptoms that can make sex physically uncomfortable
  • Hand tremors that may affect touch and the sensory elements of a sexual experience

What Are Your Treatment Options If You Are Struggling With Sexual Dysfunction Because of MS?

Sexual problems due to multiple sclerosis can be disheartening. Luckily, most sexual dysfunction symptoms of MS can be treated.

Medications for Sexual Symptoms of MS

If you have erectile dysfunction due to multiple sclerosis, your healthcare provider may recommend using medications. There are various recommendations, so it's best to familiarise yourself with the options in advance.

PDE5 Inhibitors

These medications help improve blood flow to your penis, making it easy for you to get and maintain an erection. Common PDE5 inhibitors you may be prescribed include sildenafil medication, tadalafil, vardenafil, and more.

Injectable Medications

If oral PDE5 inhibitors aren't efficient, you can use ED injections. They can help promote smooth muscle relaxation and improve blood flow in your penis.

Androgen Hormones

This can help in sexual reproductive system development. You can take testosterone supplements to help regulate your libido and sexual functioning.

Vacuum erection devices (VEDs) work by physically drawing blood into your penis, creating an erection.

Intraurethral medications help increase penile blood flow, allowing you to get an erection and last longer in bed.

Therapy for Sexual Symptoms of MS

Aside from medication treatment for sexual dysfunction, you can also consider therapy. There are numerous recommended therapies to choose from.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Whether you are struggling with anxieties about sex, poor body image or feelings of depression, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you develop or regain a fulfilling sex life. It may involve combining cognitive and behavioural procedures with sex therapy techniques.

Couples Sex Therapy

If sexual problems due to MS affect your relationship, you should try couples' sex therapy. A sex therapist can recommend specific exercises to refocus the couple's attention and expectations during sexual contact. The goal is to help you realize new ways of sexual intimacy.

How Can You Maintain a Healthy Sex Life with MS?

Having multiple sclerosis doesn't mean you should stop enjoying sex. On the contrary, you can regain your sexual pleasure with MS in various ways.

Start by Talking

Talk to your doctor about the issues you're experiencing. They can show you great ways to deal with your ED symptoms and enjoy happy sex life. You should also discuss your sexual dysfunction and multiple sclerosis problems with your partner.

Focus on Healthy Eating

Blood flow to the shaft of the penis allows you to have an erection. You can improve blood flow to the penis by maintaining healthy eating patterns. Consider adding foods that help prevent ED to your diet.

Get Moving

Although exercising with MS can be challenging depending on your physical limitations, moving is essential. Engaging in aerobic exercises can improve your cardiovascular health, affecting your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Yoga-based stretches and postures can also be helpful.

Focus on Pelvic Floor Health

Your pelvic floor muscles are essential for maintaining erections, ejaculating, and achieving orgasm. However, they can become weak due to multiple sclerosis lesions in your spine. You can strengthen these muscles through pelvic floor exercises. It can help increase sexual function.

Plan Sexual Encounters Ahead

Fatigue is a significant factor in sexual intimacy for people with MS. Planning your sexual encounters can help you pace your day's activities to conserve energy.

Tips for Partners of People Living With MS

Does your partner have MS? You can support them in various ways.

Stay Informed

MS is a complex condition and can often be misunderstood. This is why it's crucial to learn more about the disease and sort out the facts from the myths. You can ask your partner, research from trusted sources, or consult with your primary healthcare provider.

Be Patient

MS symptoms that impact cognition and coordination can make your loved one move, think, or speak more slowly than usual. What's more, they can quickly become tired and unable to engage in physical or sexual activities. When this happens, be patient and allow them to do things at their pace.

Be Adaptable

MS can be unpredictable. This may cause your loved one to alter scheduled activities. As a loving partner, you should learn to be flexible with changing plans.

Maintain Normality

While it may be tempting to smother your partner with love and affection after an MS diagnosis, it can become disempowering or even patronizing. Ensure you maintain a sense of normalcy wherever possible. You can offer support only when your loved one needs it or asks for it.

Be Supportive

If your partner is living with MS and is struggling with anxiety, depression, or even sexual problems, support them as they get help. You can also join them for couples therapy.

Look After Yourself

It's critical to make time for yourself too. Looking after yourself puts you in a better position to support your partner. It can also have a positive impact on your relationship.

Key Takeaways: Treatment for Sexual Dysfunction Caused By Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis and sexual dysfunction are often linked. If MS affects your sex life, some treatments and strategies can help. Consider consulting your doctor, mental health professional, or therapist.

You should also talk to your partner about your condition. It allows you to work with them to navigate challenges in your sexual relationship. If you want to explore more options, check out our shop for some treatment options.

Are you experiencing sexual problems due to MS? No need to worry. Sexual dysfunction in men is wholly treatable.

Schedule a free consultation with one of our doctors today and get the help you deserve. 


Disclaimer
This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.