Sex and Intimacy With MS

By Miley Foster
Updated 2024-04-01 14:46:12 | Published 2021-01-18 17:41:04
  • Multiple Sclerosis
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When my partner and I first started dating in our 20s, our shared interest in sex was what brought us together. We didn't prioritize money or owning a home, but we were deeply connected through our sexual relationship. However, everything changed when I had a severe relapse of multiple sclerosis (MS). Suddenly, I felt less desirable and uncertain about our ability to maintain that connection. With each passing year, my body gradually lost function, and I became weaker and less mobile.

Despite still having the desire for sex, I questioned whether I could still engage in it and if my wife or anyone else would still find me attractive. The thought of losing that intimate bond made me worry about the future of our relationship. However, we had two children at that point, so splitting up was not an option. Despite my worries, real life turned out to be better than expected. Like every other challenge that MS presents, maintaining our sexual intimacy required us to adapt, accept losses, and find solutions.

One issue we encountered was a loss of energy. There were times when I was attracted to my partner but simply didn't have the energy to engage in sex. We learned that scheduling sex for times when I had more energy, such as in the morning, was helpful. It may not be as spontaneous, but making time for love is necessary.

MS symptoms like numbness, spasticity, and pain can interfere with sexual activity. Medications, including cannabis, can alleviate these symptoms. For me, cannabis helped relax my muscles, reduce pain, and increase sensation. If cannabis is not an option, discussing alternative medications with a doctor is recommended.

Mobility issues can also impact sexual positions, but there are always options. Passive positions, such as lying on the back or side, may work best for individuals with MS. Additionally, issues with bladder control can disrupt intimacy. Emptying the bladder and bowels before engaging in romantic activities can help.

When one partner becomes the caregiver, role confusion can arise, making it challenging to switch to a lover dynamic. Seeking care from others or increasing self-care activities can alleviate this issue. Couples counseling can also be beneficial.

Loss of sexual function, including difficulties with erections, is common among individuals with MS. These problems can often be treated through medication changes or psychotherapy. Exploring non-intercourse sexual activities can also provide intense pleasure.

Loss of desire can create challenges in a relationship when one partner loses interest while the other still desires intimacy. Options to address this include adjusting medications, seeking therapy, and trying sexual behaviors such as body mapping. Some couples may choose a lifestyle change where the partner who still desires sex can seek it outside the relationship, as long as it doesn't impact their feelings towards the nonsexual partner.

Maintaining a sexual relationship with MS may be more challenging, but it is possible. It's important to find solutions that work for both partners and prioritize feeling close and loved. MS may change things, but it doesn't have to take away the joys of intimacy. Personally, I had 30 good years of sex with MS, and now I am open to the possibility of returning to it someday.

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