KEY POINTS

  • Multiple sclerosis affects brain and central nervous system
  • 2.3 million people worldwide have multiple sclerosis
  • Most patients experience decline in sexual activity

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease affecting the brain and the central nervous system. MS is considered an autoimmune disease where one’s body’s own immune system attacks its own tissues. Such an immune system malfunction destroys the fatty substance that lines and protects the nerve fibers located in the spinal cord and the brain gives rise to multiple sclerosis.

The severity, symptoms, and duration of multiple sclerosis differ from one person to another. While some individuals live symptom-free, others exhibit some early warning signs, especially this one pertaining to sexual life.

Individuals with multiple sclerosis often experience sexual problems but they are quite common in the general population as well. Since sexual arousal happens in the central nervous system, when your brain sends messages to the sexual organs via nerves running through the spinal cord, damage to these nerve pathways might affect sexual responses including orgasm and arousal.

People with multiple sclerosis also experience sexual problems due to symptoms like fatigue, spasticity and other psychological factors pertaining to mood changes or self-esteem.

The National MS Society mentioned that 63% of MS patients reported a decline in sexual activity. Several surveys have found that 91% of men and 72% of women with multiple sclerosis were affected by sexual dysfunction.

Although ignoring problems in sexual life can lead to major losses in quality of life, both MS patients as well their healthcare providers often hesitate to bring up the topic. MS patients of both sexes also experience sexual dysfunction, including loss of libido or achieving orgasms.

Instructions in alternative means of sexual stimulation can benefit MS patients to overcome problems including slow arousal and impaired sensation. Also, there are medications to control abnormal sensations and spasms. To treat urinary leakage and other problems during sexual intercourse, several techniques, including intermittent catheterization, are used.

Other symptoms of multiple sclerosis include fatigue, difficulty walking, vision problems, cognitive changes, emotional issues, tremors, seizures, bladder issues, vertigo, speech problems, breathing difficulties, pain, itching, dizziness, tingling sensations, bowel-related problems, loss of hearing and depression.

feet-224680_1920 Sexual dysfunction could be an early warning sign of MS Photo: niekverlaan, Pixabay