“Let's talk about sex, baby
Let's talk about you and me
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let's talk about sex” - Lyrics by Salt ‘n’ Pepa
So we’ve been talking about sex, intimacy, sexual dysfunction, and multiple sclerosis here at MS HealthCentral. For such a challenging topic, the response has been very positive. I highly recommend that you start with the ﬁrst post, read through the series, and add your comments and suggestions. Thanks in advance.
In every healthy marriage and relationship, intimacy plays an important role. For those living with a disability, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), maintaining a satisfying sex life can be an arduous task. But there are ways to return to the level of intimacy you once knew.
“There may be issues around intimacy related to issues such as spasticity, weakness, pain or other physical symptoms,” says Brian Hutchinson, PT, MSCS, CEO of The Huega Center for Multiple Sclerosis in Colorado. “It is important to talk about these issues with your health care provider and your partner. Many times, managing the symptoms may decrease the barriers to sex. Another signiﬁcant issue may be fatigue. In the case of fatigue being the barrier to intimacy, energy conservation techniques are crucial which includes planning and taking advantage of times of the day when you have more energy. Managing symptoms along with good communication are imperative.”
It is a good idea to be open and honest with your doctor. Discuss the physical problems and symptoms you are experiencing and any medications you are taking. If you are not comfortable talking to your current physician about these topics, you may want to ﬁnd one you feel more at ease with or who specializes in sexual or intimacy-related issues.
“I think MS, especially for women who are diagnosed, can affect your psyche,” says Mimi Mosher, who, through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, offers intimacy guidance to patients. “Many women, at times, feel unattractive and experience mobility issues and various symptoms of the disease that hurt their self-conﬁdence. First and foremost you really need to restructure who you are and become comfortable in your own skin before you can start to address intimacy and relationship-related issues.”
The Four-Point Strategy to Maintain a Satisfying Sex Life is presented by Mimi Mosher, an MS patient who helps other patients.
1. Self-conﬁdence is key. MS and mobility loss can cause feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment that must be overcome for partners to remain intimate. Couples should discuss all issues associated with sex openly-perhaps in conjunction with a therapist.
2. When it comes to sex, it’s not the destination that counts-it’s the journey. When someone loses the ability to move freely, the mechanics of sex invariably must change. Traditional approaches to intimacy may be uncomfortable or impossible. Understanding limits and using experimentation are essential. To continue to be intimate, focus more on the process of physical intimacy rather than the end result. This mindset helps to minimize performance anxieties and demonstrates how to continue to enjoy intimacy.