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Sex & MS: Tips for a Satisfying Love Life

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WebMD Feature

MS can change your sex life, no question. But there are so many ways for you to take control. Make sex exciting, intimate, playful, and fun again.

It's Not You, It's the MS

The sex problems you have may just be symptoms of MS.  So if your libido is low and things that used to turn you on now seem ho-hum, don't feel down.

These symptoms aren't permanent. Taking care of yourself, changes in your lifestyle, and other treatments can help with sex problems, just as they help with other symptoms of MS.

Map your body. Your body may feel different than it used to. Get in touch with that, says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Take time to time explore it: Lock the bedroom door, relax, and take 15 minutes feeling every part of your body.  "Figure out what feels good, what doesn't, and what hurts," she says. This isn't about masturbation, although that's good, too. It's about taking stock of what your body feels now.

Tell your partner. Once you have a sense of what feels good, share what you've learned with your partner. He or she likely wants to know. Your partner may have been nervous or worried about accidentally hurting you.

Reset your relationship. “When you have MS, you and your partner talk a lot about your health," says Cindy Richman of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. "You may start to feel more like a patient than a person." You may feel less sexual and desirable. To reconnect, set aside times where you agree no to talk about MS. It's important.

Be Bold in the Bedroom

Treat your MS as an opportunity to try different things in bed.

Try new positions. Your old standbys, like the missionary position, may be uncomfortable now. Try others. Use pillows or rolled-up towels to support parts of your body to make you more comfortable. Also try oral sex or using your hands more.

Experiment with sex toys. If you need more stimulation than you used to, try using sex toys, both alone and with your partner.

Add lubricant. Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of MS. So buy a water-based lubricant. Use a lot of it -- people tend to use too little, Kalb says.

Redefine sex. Try to focus more on the experience and less on checking off the boxes. Sex doesn't mean you have to have intercourse. You and your partner don't have to climax. You can still have an intimate -- and sexy -- experience.

Plan. Good sex doesn’t have to be spontaneous. Plan ahead. Decide on a day and time. Anticipation might build your excitement. Choose the time of day when you feel best -- you may have more energy in the morning than at night.

Get Help for Symptoms

Talking with your partner and a sense of adventure in the bedroom go a long way. But some sex problems need medical treatment.

MS affects your nerves, and it can also cause things like bladder problems that make you want to avoid sex.

Sex problems are real medical concerns.  Tell your doctor and ask what you can do.

  • Bladder and bowel problems.Medications and behavior changes -- like drinking less before sex and using a catheter -- can help.
  • Side effects of drugs. Changing the dose or switching drugs may resolve some sexual symptoms.
  • Erectile dysfunction and ejaculation problems. Medications and other treatments can help.
  • Spasms. You can reduce spasms or discomfort during sex by timing your medication so it's most effective when you need it.
Reviewed on October 14, 2013

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