Intimate symptoms

Intimate symptoms

People living with MS can experience a range of intimate symptoms including bladder, bowel and sexual problems. Here we’ll take a look at each and how they may be managed.

Bladder and bowel problems

People living with MS can find bladder and bowel problems limit their daily activities. They can make leaving the house a stressful experience that requires a great deal of planning and preparation.

There are two main types of bladder problems that people living with MS may experience:

  1. Your bladder can struggle to store urine which can make you feel like you need to urinate frequently and sometimes with little warning
  2. Your bladder may not be able to empty fully which can also make you need to go to urinate frequently

You may experience one and not the other, or you could experience both. 

People living with MS are more likely to experience constipation than bowel incontinence, but the two can be linked. 

Managing bladder problems

If you experience bladder problems such as the uncontrollable need to urinate or the inability to empty your bladder you might find them embarrassing to talk about. But, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or MS nurse because they may be able to find a solution that works for you.

If you find bladder problems are having a significant impact on your life, there are effective medical treatments you may benefit from as well as ways to manage the problems you’re facing day-to-day. These solutions may include things like incontinence pads, urinary self-catheterisation or intermittent catheterisation by a professional could give you back some independence. Talk to your doctor or MS nurse if you’re experiencing any problems because they may be able to find a solution that works for you. 

Sexual dysfunction

Living with MS can be a stressful experience, it can put pressure on your relationships and it can cause a range of symptoms. You may find that MS is affecting your sex life, by causing a number of problems from lack of interest to loss of sensation. Some symptoms can be a direct result of the damage MS is causing to the myelin coating your nerves. These symptoms include: decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction and a change in genital sensations. But you could experience sexual problems as a result of other MS symptoms. For example, fatigue can lower sex drive and depression can cause sexual dysfunction.

Managing sexual problems

You might find sexual problems embarrassing to discuss but they can have a real impact on your relationship. If you’re having problems, discuss them with your doctor or MS nurse as there are a number of ways these problems can be managed. In women, treatment aims to reduce pain during intercourse and improve sensitivity problems or lubrication. In men, erectile dysfunction may be resolved in a number of ways such as talking therapies and with certain treatments.  

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