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Multiple Sclerosis and Sex: Emotional Complications

Whether or not you have multiple sclerosis (MS), today’s culture is filled with many loud and clear attitudes about sex. Everyone is supposed to be young, healthy, thin, and sexually alluring. No flab, blemishes, wrinkles, baldness, or infirmities of any kind are allowed.

With these messages coming at you from all sides, you may wonder how it’s possible to be sexual now that you have MS. Consider these common reactions: “This doesn’t even feel like my body any more. How can I be attractive to someone else if I don’t feel attractive to me?” and “How can I feel sexy when I’m barely keeping my head above water?”

Sexuality begins in your mind (even though it doesn’t usually feel that way), so being sexual when you have MS begins with feeling comfortable with yourself and your body. And chances are, you aren’t the only one in your relationship having hang-ups about all this. Your sexual partner may be worried about hurting you or tiring you out. Or, your partner may feel guilty or selfish about wanting to have sex even though you’re tired.


If MS has interfered with your relationship in other ways — for example, by making it necessary for you to shift around your roles and responsibilities a bit — you both may be finding it difficult to sort out your feelings about each other and the relationship. All these feelings and attitudes can get in the way of sexual feelings and expression.

The biggest roadblock to getting help with sexual problems is silence. Too often, people tend to clam up about issues like this that make them uncomfortable. The best way to get the big white elephant out of your bedroom is to begin talking about it with your doctor and your partner.

Although communicating with your healthcare professional is very important, talking with your partner should also be right up there on your priority list. After all, it takes two to tango, and even the most loving partners can’t read each other’s minds.

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