Don't Let MS Take Over Your Relationship
Eric Patterson is a licensed professional counsellor. Read our article on MS and Sex: Embracing Love and Your Body for the perspective of an MS patient.
Whenever you investigate potential barriers to having good relationships, you look to the normal sources. You look at trust. You look at communication. You weigh how these key points in a relationship can enhance what you have into something better, or diminish what you have into something desirable to no one.
Then, there is the combination of sex and intimacy. Overly relying on these two is never a good idea, but if they are absent, the resulting demise of your relationship can be harsh. Sex and intimacy can make people feel connected and united in ways that no other aspect can. Sexual tension, frustration caused by lack of intimacy, and undesirable sexual experiences can tear relationships apart to an irreversible point.
The Impact of MS
Multiple sclerosis shapes every aspect of your life in largely negative ways. Your romantic relationships are no exception. Sure, there is the occasional story of a relationship that has found battling MS a source of strength and a bond of togetherness. Others find the hardship to be a heavy weight that hinders their ability to have sex and feel intimacy with their partner.
Experts believe that MS negatively influences sex and intimacy in three distinct ways. The primary way is from the direct, biological changes triggered by MS. Some people will have brain lesions that target specific areas associated with sex and sexuality. For men, MS can make achieving an erection, maintaining an erection, or having an orgasm impossible. For women, MS can make sex less comfortable through decreased lubrication and less pleasurable by reducing or eliminating the odds of an orgasm.
The second way that MS makes sex and intimacy more difficult is through indirect, biological changes. These changes are related to MS directly but to sexuality and intimacy indirectly. Think about the range of MS symptoms you have and inspect the ones that might negatively affect your relationship.
For example, if energy and motivation are a struggle due to MS, sex will be a lower priority. Additionally, if physical pain is a problem, sex will not be a pleasurable endeavor. These secondary impacts yield huge results.
The third way that MS disrupts your sex life and intimacy is by changing the way you view yourself. The changed viewpoints occur on many levels. After the MS diagnosis, you may see yourself as someone who is sick, ill, sad, unlovable, and many other unwelcome adjectives.
This new perspective can bring about feelings of depression and anxiety, which will distort views on your relationship. If you are feeling less desirable and your relationship is less desirable, sex and intimacy will be less likely.