MS can damage nerve pathways in the central nervous system and this includes those pathways used for sexual response, including orgasm and arousal.
Some people find that it is too embarrassing to discuss the sexual problems that they experience which are related to MS or otherwise, yet ignoring these problems will lead to a huge loss of quality of life.
For many people with MS, sexual problems are caused by a combination of direct and indirect factors. These can include:
MS damage to nerve pathways in your brain and spinal cord
Lack of confidence
Sexual problems for women with MS
Sexual problems are not unusual for women with MS and can include:
Loss of libido
Loss of sensation and difficulty achieving orgasm
However, it is important to remember that loss of libido and vaginal dryness may be caused by other issues such as menopause or other health related conditions.
Sexual problems for men with MS
Sexual problems for men with MS include:
A loss of libido
Inability or difficulty in reaching an orgasm
Although there is a long list of different MS symptoms, it is important to note that you won’t experience them all and that problems with erections and orgasms are often due to other causes such as age, alcohol or drug use, or other health issues.
MS & Pregnancy
The good news is that MS doesn't affect your fertility and you won’t make your MS worse in the long run by getting pregnant.
Unlike some conditions, MS is not directly inherited from parent to child, but there are genetic factors. Children and close family members of people with MS are at increased risk of getting MS, and there are a number of actions you can take to prevent this.
Some MS therapies and medications however, can harm an unborn baby, so let your doctor know if you want to start trying for a baby so that you can halt treatment for a few months in advance.
There are also MS drugs which can affect sperm, so men with MS who want to start a family also need to consult their doctor beforehand.
The good news then gets better – numerous studies show that pregnancy has a positive influence on MS symptoms. MS relapse rates go down during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester.
After your baby is born, the chance of relapse increases but this has no impact on your MS in the future.
Women with MS who are a childbearing age should take a vitamin D supplement every day and should continue when pregnant.
For further information, take a look at our pregnancy and MS page.
Treating sexual problems
The OMS -Step Recovery Program helps whatever is happening in your everyday life and this includes sexual problems, whether they are direct from nerve damage, indirect from other MS symptoms or due to psychological issues. Feeling depressed can be a common reason for loss of libido or difficulty in achieving an orgasm.
Feeling sexy is also often linked to looking after yourself, getting some exercise and having a healthy, balanced diet.
As well as improving your physical and psychological health on the OMS program, you can also:
✔ Experiment with the best time of day for intimacy, work it around any fatigue you may feel.
✔ Communicate with your partner about sexual problems you may experience and use positive language. Say ‘I like it when…’ or ‘I feel’ rather than ‘you don’t…’.
✔ Research and learn more about your MS symptoms. By learning more about MS, you will feel more in control and better able to explain to your partner.
✔ Relax – try to make time for regular massages with your partner.
What are the next steps?
If it seems like there is too much information and you don’t know where to start, read through our next steps – we can help you.
UK Pregnancy Guidelines - covering pre-pregnancy counselling (for men and women), management during pregnancy, delivery and anesthetic options, postpartum advice and specific advice regarding disease-modifying drugs (DMDs).