You are here
Sexual disorders in women with MS: Assessment and management
D. Cordeau, F. Courtois
Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Available online 5 June 2014
Summarize the data on sexual disorders in women with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Review of 99 Pubmed articles covering sexual dysfunction in women with MS.
Prevalence of dysfunction in women with MS varies from 34% to 85%. They include poor vaginal lubrication, poor clitoral erection, and anorgasmia, which correlate with level of disability. Specific brain stem and pyramidal lesions appear to correlate with anorgasmia. Age and duration of the disease correlate with sexual disorders, but not age at onset. Secondary consequences of MS, including bladder and bowel dysfunction, spasticity, pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and side effects of medication contribute to sexual dysfunction. Treatments can involve alpha-blockers or phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors to increase smooth muscle relaxation, while lubricants and oestrogen therapy can help vaginal dryness, burning and dyspareunia. Antidepressants can delay (or abolish) orgasm, suggesting reducing dosage or combining them with PDE5 inhibitors. Counselling should emphasize planning sexual activities, reducing fatigue, managing positions, preventing incontinence, promoting sexual aids, extra-genital and other sexual options to achieve pleasurable and intimacy. Psychosocial interventions should include couples’ relationship and communication skills to increase satisfaction.
Sexual dysfunctions in women with MS are amenable to treatments covering primary, secondary and tertiary consequences of the disease.