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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

More common than anyone suspects, the unspoken issue of sexual dysfunction, affects more than half of the MS population


Sexual Dysfunction in MS
Researchers delved into the private lives of men with multiple sclerosis (MS) in a recent study and discovered that sexual dysfunction is a common MS complication. Although it’s a topic patients may be reluctant to discuss with their neurologists, they should be aware that intimacy problems are often treatable.
Scientists from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Warsaw, Poland, interviewed 67 men with MS who were members of the National MS Center. The participants also filled out questionnaires and underwent neurological evaluations, all in an attempt to measure their sexual satisfaction.
Of those 67 men, researchers found that more than half complained of erectile dysfunction (ED), roughly a quarter reported decreased interest in sex or had issues reaching climax, and nearly a fifth had difficulty with ejaculation. These results didn’t seem to depend on the patient’s age, the amount of time since his diagnosis, or his level of disability.

A 'Wall of Silence'

The researchers concluded that sexual dysfunction "is highly prevalent but commonly overlooked in MS patients and has a significant impact on their sexual quality of life.” Despite these widespread issues, the researchers found that only 6 percent of the study participants had spoken about these problems with their doctor.
The discrepancy between the number of men who suffer from sexual dysfunction and those who report it to their doctor is probably due to the taboo nature of the topic.
Most likely, the subject doesn't come up, according to Megan Weigel, DNP, ARNP-C, MSCN, in an interview with Healthline, "because sexual dysfunction is a sensitive issue both for the person with the problem and the healthcare provider. However, it is possible that people with MS may not know it can be a symptom of the disease."
But if patients can put aside their discomfort long enough to have a frank conversation with their doctor—dropping the wall of silence—it may be possible to treat the problem.

Sexual Dysfunction Isn’t Just for Men

In an earlier study, the same group of researchers looked at sexual dysfunction in women with MS. While the researchers identified real issues faced by more than three quarters of the patients studied, only 2.2 percent of these women ever told their doctors about their sexual difficulties.
Among the problems women reported were lack of desire, decreased sensation in the genitals, poor lubrication, and an inability to climax. The study found that sexual dysfunction was "less likely in women who assessed their relationship positively but more common in older patients and those who had a positive history of depression.”

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1 comment:

Sarabellum said...

MS researchers need to develop more detailed, nuanced questions if they expect to learn specifics about sexual function and MS.

One or two general questions about lessening of libido, yes or no, won't bring out what you want to know.

Sexuality begins in the brain so how about asking, "Do you feel less attractive to a prospective partner because you walk with a limp?"

Researchers, please put some people with MS (and that means treating us as pwMS, not "patients if you want to learn about intimacy) in single sex (straight and bi-sexual) focus groups and in couples groups. You will then develop questionnaires that will really be useful scientifically.

In the meantime, many single pwMS will ask themselves if it is better to strive toward a full sexual relationship with a new partner or not bother? We need answers and will be glad to help you develop better questionnaires.

There is a lot to be learned that will help people with disabilities other than MS and people dealing with sexuality and aging.

Linda Safran, Founder
ARMS
Advancing Research in MS
www.advancing-research-in-ms.com