Sexual Function for MS, Other Patients with Neurological Disorders Can Improve with Help

Patricia Inacio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inacio, PhD |

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Sexual dysfunction is common for patients affected by neurological disorders, but it does not have to signal the end of a satisfying sex life and intimate lovemaking, according to researchers.

Appropriate measures can help patients overcome sexual dysfunction associated with disease. Scientists from around the world discussed the topic at the recent Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Copenhagen.

“Erectile dysfunction in men and orgasm dysfunction in women are the most frequent sexual consequences of neurological deficits,” said David Vodušek, a professor at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, according to a press release. “There are ways of helping affected individuals, provided (that) neurologists actively address possible problems with the patient’s intimate private life.”

Neurological disorders can severely affect patients’ sexuality, leading to a wide range of problems including loss of desire, erection issues, and infertility — but too often the issue of sexual dysfunction is given too little attention. Vodušek said patients can be helped if neurologists and patients actively address the problems in a patient’s intimate private life just as they address other mobility and function issues.

In patients with serious neurological disorders, lesions to the frontal and temporal lobes may cause sexual dysfunction, leading to weak sexual desire in both men and women. Epileptic patients often experience decreased sexual arousability, and male patients with Parkinson’s report erectile dysfunction and problems with orgasm and ejaculation. MS patients may experience similar sexual issues.

“The dedicated neurologist can treat typical and simple sexual problems in his patient and reserve urological consultation for the more complex issues and for dysfunctions that prove refractory,” Vodušek said.

Vodušek stressed that a sexual consultation is a must within the context of side effects and quality of life — and the patient’s partner should be included in the consultations.

Many products exist to counter sexual dysfunction. Lubricants help against vaginal dryness and oral drugs help to counter erectile dysfunction — especially those based on cGMP phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. If oral therapy fails, an injection in the penis could be helpful. Patients with Parkinson’s can benefit from dopamine treatment to help normalize sexual desire.

“Compassionate, respectful consultations that consider the patient holistically instead of focusing on individual body parts are among the best means of getting a sexual problem under control. They do much to sensitize the patients about certain phenomena that might occur in the course of the disease. If certain dysfunctions do end up actually occurring, the patient will have any easier time addressing them,” Vodušek said.

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