31 Days of MS: Talking About Sex, Intimacy, and MS

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31 Days of MS

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Photos courtesy of Daana Townsend

Day 16 of 31

This is Daana Townsend’s story:

My name is Daana Townsend, and I was diagnosed with RRMS in March 2004. I was 23. My mother and aunt also have MS.

My treatment journey started with Avonex and continued with Tysabri, plasmapheresis, and Lemtrada, and finally Ocrevus (my current DMT or disease-modifying therapy).

After being in what I refer to as denial about the impact of MS on my life, I finally decided to open up about my experiences as a Black woman with MS (a narrative often missing in the community).

In 2018, a friend and fellow MSer, Dawn Morgan, and I started the Myelin & Melanin podcast. We’re two Black women sharing our musings about life, MS, and everything in between.

This brings me to a juicy topic: Sex and intimacy.

During season three, we produced two different series on intimacy. Intimacy is one of those topics that is often glossed over when it comes to MS; people (including medical providers) are often more concerned with issues pertaining to treating MS. Intimacy often gets pushed to the wayside. 

This is problematic on many levels.

In our first series, we focused on “the basics.” We touched on the ideas of self-love, self-acceptance, communication, and honesty with partners. 

We also talked with medical professionals in the MS community to address the importance of having frank conversations with your medical team about sex. We also talked with members of and influencers in the MS community about their experiences in navigating intimate relationships (romantic and platonic).

We took things a bit further in the second series. We focused on issues that are often left out of the intimacy, MS, and disability narratives like pleasure, sexual superpowers, guilt, shame, love languages, kink, and BDSM (variety of sexual practices that involve bondage, dominance, and submission/sadomasochism). 

We welcomed a sex therapist, somatic sex educator, professional dominatrix (with MS), as well as members of the kink and MS communities to explore these nuanced issues with us.

We find that people with chronic illnesses and disabilities are seen as asexual and somehow not worthy of fulfilling sexual relationships. This is a problem, and we wanted to challenge the narrative. We did, and the conversation continues!

Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or go here to see the full series.

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