Maintaining a healthy sexuality

A variety of factors, both physical and psychological, can affect your sex life if you or your partner have MS. Keep in mind that there is no one definition of "healthy sexuality" – it is a personal expression of the needs and choices of you and your partner. Remember that life is a series of changes and that your ideas about sexuality may need to adapt as well.

Regain control of your sex life. For women with MS, vaginal dryness and loss of sensation may interfere with sexual intercourse. To alleviate vaginal dryness during intercourse, try using a lubricating gel. For men and women who experience a loss of sexual sensation or control as a result of their MS, there are devices and medications that can help. If you experience a decrease of physical sensation during sex, talk to your doctor or sexual therapist about ways that can help you and your partner.

Communicate! Many people with MS encounter changes in their self-esteem. As sexuality and self-esteem are frequently linked, it's important to speak to your partner about any anxieties you have. You may find that simply talking about your concerns helps to alleviate them, or that the intimacy of discussion fosters and strengthens your relationship. This, in turn, will enhance your sexual relations.

Try a different time of day. If you're too exhausted by the evening for sexual activity, set time aside earlier in the day when energy levels are higher.

If fatigue is overwhelming, remember that cuddling and kisses are part of our sexuality too and offer a great deal of pleasure. Sexual activity does not have to mean intercourse.

Keep a positive attitude. Sexuality involves love and affection with your partner. Reach out to each other for support.

Stay open and adaptable to new ideas. This may involve having to tape catheters out of the way, using vibrators to aid stimulation, or using medications or vacuum tubes to help achieve erection. Don't shy away from new ideas... you may find they work!

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