Sexual problems are often experienced by people with MS and are very common in the general population as well. Some studies suggest sexual dysfunction affects between 40 and 80 percent of women, and 50 to 90 percent of men living with multiple sclerosis.
Sexual arousal begins in the central nervous system, as the brain sends messages to the sexual organs along nerves running through the spinal cord. If MS damages these nerve pathways, sexual response including arousal and orgasm can be directly affected. Sexual problems may also stem from MS symptoms such as fatigue or spasticity and from psychological factors relating to self-esteem and mood changes and even medications.
Ignoring these problems can lead to significant losses in quality of life. Yet both patients and healthcare professionals are often slow to bring up the subject.