Multiple Sclerosis in Men and Loss of Sexual Desire

If Your Hubby Has Lost His Libido, Don't Blame Yourself

Couple looking serious on the bed
MS in Men. Glow Images, Inc / Getty Images

If your husband has multiple sclerosis (MS), you may have already had to change many things in your life, such as limiting activities in hot weather, helping out during relapses, or adjusting to other disabilities. However, the one symptom that requires the most “teamwork” to deal with is sexual dysfunction, which comes in many forms. This is also the symptom that most men are going to be reluctant to discuss openly.

Why Doesn't My Husband Seem to Want Sex? 

Sex is a complicated process that relies on the central nervous system to generate arousal and sexual response. In MS, damage to nerve pathways caused by demyelination can affect an individual’s sexual arousal and response. Fatigue, pain, and numbness can also create sexual problems for men living with multiple sclerosis. Some surveys show that as many as 91 percent of men with MS will experience some degree of sexual dysfunction (women with MS also suffer from it as well - up to 72 percent will have sexual problems).

When it comes to your sex life, you may try to figure out “what you did wrong” or “what you could do better.” But this is not the time to: a) assume that your husband is having an affair; b) assume that your husband is losing interest in you, or c) start complaining to all of your friends or family about the problem. You need to learn a little bit about the problem and possible solutions, and—the most difficult and most important part—communicate with your partner about how you can deal with this as a team.

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms That Can Interrupt Your Sex Life

Men who are living with multiple sclerosis may experience any one (or several) of these symptoms that can impact their libido and your sex life: 

  • Loss of libido (interest in sex)
  • Reduced sensitivity in the penis
  • Difficulty getting/keeping an erection
  • Difficulty having orgasms
  • Difficulty with ejaculation (dry orgasm)
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with the movements/positions involved in sex due to pain or muscle spasms

What Can You Do? 

There is a wide range of therapies and treatments to assist men experiencing sexual dysfunction. Some of these involve simple things you can do at home while others involve seeing a doctor or taking a medication.

Home Remedies: Vibrators can be used on the woman if her husband is having trouble maintaining an erection. Some may feel insecure about this approach, but if you ask him to use it on you, he might find it very arousing. Men can also use vibrators for anal penetration if this is something they may be interested in. And don't forget good old-fashioned oral and manual stimulation. These alternatives to penetrative sex can provide means to stimulate either partner.

Oral medications: Viagra and other medications can help men achieve and maintain erections, and are effective for about 50-percent of men with MS. In order to work, the man must feel aroused, which may require quite a bit of manual stimulation and other foreplay.

Injectable Medications: These medications are injected into the base of the penis. In contrast to the oral medications, the injectables produce an erection within a couple of minutes, even if no stimulation has occurred yet.

Penile Treatments: Various devices can be inserted into the penis by a doctor to assist with erections.

Muscle Relaxants and Pain Medication: These medications can be used to help spasms and pain that may interfere with sex.

The Key to Sexual Pleasure with MS: Open Communication 

This is by far the most important component of the solution to sexual dysfunction, and often the most difficult. Men with MS are probably already experiencing some degree of anger, embarrassment, fatigue, and grief over the changes in their bodies, so there may be some rough spots starting a conversation about sexual dysfunction. It is your job to reassure your husband that you find him desirable and that this is not just his problem, but something that you will work on together. Again, while this may be challenging for both of you, you may just find that your relationship gets stronger (and steamier) after some of these discussions.

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Article Sources

  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Sexuality. From The MS Information Sourcebook. Tanya Radford, MS and Intimacy. National Multiple Sclerosis Society