Despite common misbelief, sexual dysfunctions affect both women and men who suffer from multiple sclerosis. There are a number of physical and mental factors that contribute to the lack of sexual activity, ranging from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, to medication that causes people to lose sexual appetite as part of their side effects.
Understanding erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is not just common among men who suffer from MS, but is known to hit even healthy men as well. While it’s commonly associated with men over the age of 65, it can also strike at an earlier time, even in men who are at the age of 40. ED can take many forms, such as:
- Erections that are short in duration.
- Failure to achieve an erection altogether.
- Difficulty in achieving an erection in a timely manner.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Sexual stimulation starts in the brain, with signals and impulses that are sense through nerve pathways. As these pathways become damaged, the body fails to respond to sexual stimuli as it normally would. Erections are a result of significant blood flow to the penis, which become swollen and rigid. Sexual arousal can happen as a response to both physical and psychological stimuli, and it’s important to understand that each of these methods of stimulation is different:
- When the erection is a result of a psychological stimulant, the brain sends specific signals to the spinal cord.
- Erections that are a result of physical stimulus are normally triggered by nerves located in the lower part of the body.
These bits of information are important to further understand how MS can lead to erectile dysfunction. When a man suffers from multiple sclerosis, the nerves are subject to damage, causing problems with transmitting information from the brain to other parts of the body. Erectile dysfunction (ED) can depend on where this nerve damage is specifically located. Because of that, some men are able of achieving an erection after psychological stimulus, but unable to get one after physical stimulation.
How is ED diagnosed?
Sexual dysfunction can affect men and women on a deep psychological level. Women will often feel less desirable because of their medical condition, while the male ego is shattered when they are unable to sexually perform. While a Viagra prescription may help, there are other more profound implications for ED symptoms.
Some factors that are worth mentioning:
- There are cases when men leak urine during intercourse.
- In some cases, men will experience a reduced sensation in the genital area which, in turn, can lead to failure in ejaculating.
- The use of antidepressants as part of the MS treatment can lead to the loss of sexual appetite, among other common side effects caused by such drugs.
- Psychological factors should never be neglected, but should be addressed separately.
Investigations to diagnose ED need to take all the above factors into consideration, as the proper treatment to erectile dysfunction can be something as simple as making a few adjustments in the dosage of the drugs taken to alleviate some other MS symptoms.
Alternative solutions for erectile dysfunction
There are some alternatives to medication like Viagra or Cialis, which are often the solution that lots of men prefer to turn to. However, some of these meds can interact with other types of medication prescribed for different MS symptoms, in which case the doctor will not recommend taking them.
The vacuum tube is a common alternative that can help in stimulating the penis and getting it aroused. The device is formed from a plastic tube with a pump attached to it, plus a band that goes at the base of the penis. By applying vacuum pressure, as a result of pumping air inside the tube, the band will constrict the veins, causing an erection. This happens because the entire process causes the penis to be filled with blood. This vacuum tube is available for purchase both online, as well as in different specialty shops.
Other alternative methods include the use of rubber rings that are placed at the base of the penis. These rings will prevent blood from leaving the genital area, and are capable of maintaining an erection for a longer period of time. It’s best to ask an urologist about the efficiency of these rings, as they can provide detailed information on how to use them safely.
There are also some surgical interventions that can help treat ED. Some of them involve the insertion of a penile prosthesis, but it’s typically a solution recommended only as a last results, in case other forms of medication and treatment fail to deliver. However, these surgical methods do pose a risk of infection, so it’s best to avoid them as much as possible.
Erectile dysfunction and orgasms
Orgasms has long been considered the goal of any sexual act. Truth is that sexual intercourse can cause people even when it doesn’t lead to an orgasm. If erectile dysfunctions in men who suffer from MS don’t necessarily lead to ejaculation, it can still be pleasant for both partners. The loss of orgasms should never lead to the loss of intimacy.
Sometimes, emotional intimacy is all it takes to keep the bond between men and women secured. Physical and mental arousal are facts that show orgasms are not the ultimate form of sexual pleasure, and should not be treated as such.
Erectile dysfunction can be the cause of several factors that affect MS patients on a psychological and physical level. When the problem is psychological, one must work towards a mindset shift in order to avoid looking at the problem from the most pessimistic angle possible.
When the problem is of a physical nature, a doctor can help assess the issue, by analyzing the potential causes that might lead to erectile dysfunction. Once the causes are discovered, the specialist can recommend the best forms of treatment, while taking into account some of the other MS symptoms that a patient is currently experiencing.