MS News Notes: Sexual Dysfunction, Bladder Problems, AI, and More

Columnist Ed Tobias comments on the week's top MS news

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by Ed Tobias |

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Welcome to “MS News Notes,” where I comment on multiple sclerosis (MS) news stories that caught my eye last week. Here’s a look at what’s been happening:

A medication that may ease sexual problems for women with MS

Sexual dysfunction is common among people with MS, affecting up to 80% of women and 90% of men. But an antidepressant pill that’s been around since 1985 may be able to help. As MS News Today‘s Lindsey Shapiro reports in “Antidepressant Bupropion Found to Ease Sexual Dysfunction in MS,” bupropion — marketed as Wellbutrin and Zyban, among others — may increase the levels of two brain molecules that involve sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm. Unfortunately, guys, this study only involved women.

Some help for men with bladder frequency and urgency

Most of us with MS have bladders that frequently “gotta go, gotta go.” Now, a small study reports that combining pelvic exercises with posterior tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) could help. PTNS is a procedure that delivers electrical stimulation to the bladder through nerves in the leg. This stimulation may help to relax the muscles around the bladder, thereby easing the urgency and frequency that can be a bother. Marisa Wexler provides details in the MS News Today article “Electrical Stimulation Helps With Bladder Control in MS, Study Finds.” Unfortunately, ladies, this study only involved men.

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Alcohol may interfere with Tecfidera treatments

Here’s a word of caution for people with MS being treated with Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) and who like to drink alcohol. A recent study discussed in the MS News Today story “Alcohol May Interfere With Tecfidera Metabolism, Study Finds” warns that consuming alcohol around dosing time could limit Tecfidera’s effectiveness. Specifically, the results from lab work and mice showed that alcohol inhibited the creation of a small molecule that drives Tecfidera’s therapeutic effects. It was completely absent in the blood and brain tissue of the test mice that had been given alcohol.

Researchers recommended that “alcohol consumption be avoided in close temporal proximity to dosing with [dimethyl fumarate].” They didn’t indicate how much time people should wait between consuming alcohol and taking Tecfidera, nor how much alcohol might affect treatment. But considering that the medication is taken twice a week, it could be difficult to avoid close temporal proximity. The next step is to test alcohol’s effect on Tecfidera in humans, the researchers said.

Researchers think this software could speed an MS diagnosis

Software that can detect abnormalities just five minutes after scanning MRIs will soon be available in Europe, its creators say. The tool uses artificial intelligence to assess the images and pinpoint, quantify, and monitor abnormalities. Specifically, the software can provide quantified information about lesions and other forms of brain damage, as well as data on brain volume loss. It is currently being used to help doctors diagnose strokes. MS News Today‘s Mary Chapman has the details in her story “Pixyl, Brainomix Partner on MRI Software to Help in Diagnosis of MS.”


Note: 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. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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