Nurturing romance and intimacy in a relationship, whether it's long-standing or new, is a challenge for anyone in our fast-paced world.
Intimacy is affected by many factors—including communication, trust, physical comfort, and sexual attraction—any of which can be affected by MS.
How does MS affect intimacy?
It's important to become educated about the ways MS can affect you and your relationship. This will help you understand your feelings and communicate more effectively with your partner and healthcare providers.
Ways that MS can affect your relationship:
- Neurologic changes can interfere with sexual function, including interest, arousal, and satisfaction.
- MS symptoms, including fatigue, spasticity, pain, weakness, and bowel and bladder problems, as well as some medications used for these symptoms, can interfere with sexual activity.
- Feelings of anger and loss of self-esteem as well as attitudes about illness, disability, role changes, and sexuality can interfere with romance and communication.
Steps You CAN take now
- Talk with your doctor about any physical changes that may be affecting sexual expression. Many problems can be addressed with appropriate treatment or medication.
- If communication is an issue, consider talking with a counselor who can help you and your partner discuss these problems more comfortably. Talking is how we become close and maintain closeness to someone.
- Look for ways to enhance the romance in your relationship. Schedule regular time to be together whether for intimacy or for fun and talk. Try to put aside your worries for a little while and focus on the present.
- Find ways to express caring and appreciation in your relationship everyday. It could be as simple as a gentle stroke on the cheek.
- Create rituals and traditions. Make it a habit to acknowledge and celebrate your relationship.
- Plan sexual activity for times of least fatigue.
- Create a romantic atmosphere for yourselves with music, scent, candles, or flowers. Whatever works for you.
- There's more to sexuality than sex and many ways to promote physical satisfaction and emotional intimacy. You and your partner may want to redefine what intimacy and sexuality is for you.
Author: Rosalind Kalb, PhD.