How to Rediscover Intimacy When You Have MS

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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Intimacy is often challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable, for anyone, but having a chronic disease like MS just adds another layer to a tough topic. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) there are a number of things that an MS patient can think about in order to rediscover lost intimacy between themselves and their partner.

MORE: Tips for family members and loved ones of patients with MS.

Having an intimate relationship with MS can be challenging for the patient and their partner, both physically and mentally. Having an illness can affect a person’s self-image: they may not be feeling well or they may be feeling unattractive, making it difficult for them to feel comfortable and at ease in an intimate situation.

The first step in conquering this problem is being able to accept that self-image is a problem. Everybody needs to believe that they are worthwhile in order to overcome problems with self-perception. There are support groups available for patients with MS that focus on dealing with sexuality and intimacy to help patients overcome these issues.

MORE: How to manage common MS symptoms.

Physical Limitations 
Symptoms of MS commonly include problems with mobility and coordination, weakness, pain, loss or change in sensation, muscle spasms and urinary symptoms — all of which can create issues with intimacy.

As with any intimacy problems, communication is key to resolving them. Problems arising from mobility issues can be overcome by finding new positions that are comfortable for both partners.

However, pain caused by MS can affect patients in different ways. Some patients suffer from an increase in sensation, meaning the slightest touch can feel painful, causing the person in pain to pull away. In an intimate situation, the partner may see this withdrawal as a sign of rejection, underlining once again the importance of communication to make sure that both partners are aware of what’s going on.

Urological problems, such as incontinence, the need to use a catheter or a urinary tract infection (UTI) can also affect intimacy. Speaking to a urological nurse can help couples find solutions to these problems. Going to the bathroom before physical intimacy as well as consulting a physician are good tactics for dealing with urological issues.

Regaining Intimacy
Like those with other chronic illnesses, sexual difficulty is not uncommon for patients with MS. It’s important that each couple develops a sexual style that’s comfortable for both parties. Communication is essential in order to create a comfortable, safe environment where both feel at ease. Discuss and experiment to regain lost intimacy, along with maintaining a sense of humor for when things don’t go as planned.

MORE: Some of the most common MS terms explained.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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