Psychological issues around sexuality and MS

Psychological factors relating to changes in sexual function can be very complex. They may involve depression, anxiety, anger, loss of self-esteem, and stress about living with a chronic illness. Also, coping and adapting may take time and energy for the person with MS as well as their partner.

If you have been recently diagnosed with MS, your sexual needs don't go away or become inappropriate. You can receive help in dealing with various psychological issues using counselling from a mental health professional or trained sexual therapist. To open up the lines of communication, this type of therapy should involve both partners.

Many couples maintain a positive sense of sexuality in the presence of MS and its symptoms. Communication is the key - between you and your partner. You may wish to involve your doctor or specialist too.

In addition, learn as much as you can about sexual functioning in relation to your condition. Knowing how your body works and exploring different areas of sexual activity can help you discover new ways of sexual enjoyment. This works for both couples and individuals. Remember too that a sense of humour can help you cope and maintain a positive attitude. Lastly, don't forget that having an enjoyable sex life is not necessarily the same as having sexual intercourse.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada offers a booklet called "Sexuality and Multiple Sclerosis," which you may find useful. Contact your local Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada office for more information. Marriage counsellors and others specializing in relationship problems can also provide help.

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