Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Problems with sexual functioning are relatively common in multiple sclerosis and may be the result of damage to the central nervous system (CNS), side effects from drugs or due general anxiety.
They may also occur due to a loss of 'self-image' or loss of the feeling of 'desirability' as a result of other symptoms of multiple sclerosis; for example, from bladder problems, spasticity or fatigue.
Sexual dysfunction may be a combination of any, or all of these factors.
Sexual dysfunction is broadly defined as the inability to fully enjoy sexual intercourse. Specifically, sexual dysfunctions are disorders that interfere with the ability to have sex.
Obviously, sexual dysfunction takes different forms in men and women.
Causes of sexual dysfunction may also include lack of desire, fatigue, or numbness of the genitalia.
In men with multiple sclerosis, the most common types of sexual dysfunction include:
- Erectile dysfunction: an impairment of the erectile reflex. The man is unable to have or maintain an erection that remains firm enough for intercourse to occur.
- Retrograde ejaculation: a condition in which the bladder neck does not close off properly during orgasm so that the semen spurts backward into the bladder.
- Premature ejaculation shortly after or prior to, penetration.
- Ejaculatory incompetence: the inability to ejaculate
In women with multiple sclerosis, sexual dysfunction may take the form;
- Sexual arousal disorder: the inhibition of the general arousal. A woman with this disorder does not lubricate, her vagina does not swell, and the muscle that surrounds the outer third of the vagina does not tighten-a series of changes that normally prepare the body for orgasm. Also, with this disorder, the woman typically does not feel erotic sensations.
- Vaginismus: a condition in which the muscles around the outer third of the vagina have involuntary spasms in response to attempts at vaginal penetration.
- Painful intercourse. Pain can occur at the start of intercourse, midway through coital activities, at the time of orgasm, or after intercourse is completed. The pain can be felt as burning, sharp searing, or cramping; it can be external, within the vagina, or deep in the pelvic region or abdomen.
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