Research: sex and MS

R
Reininghauset al. Sexual Behavior, Body Image, and Partnership in Chronic Illness: A Comparison of Huntington’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 Aug;200(8):716-20.

Background: Huntington’s disease (HD) and MS are both chronic progressive illnesses posing a serious challenge to affected individuals and their families. Sexual dysfunction in HD as well as in MS is a very common problem, although it is unclear whether the dysfunction is caused by the chronic illness itself or by the sociopsychiatric burden related to the illness. 


Methods: Twenty-nine people with HD and 27 MSers each participated in a semistructured interview and several standardized questionnaires concerning partnership, sexual function, and body image. 

Results: The results display significant differences in both groups, displaying higher sexual desire and activity in people with HD, but MSers also reported fewer sexual problems compared to the norming values. Conversely, the MSers’ relationships seemed to be stable despite subjectively perceived lower initiative on sexual activities. 

Conclusions: The results are discussed in the paper under the possible influences of the underlying organic changes and the psychosocial consequences of chronic progressive disorders.


“You can interpret this study as you want. I am not sure if it relevant to compare MS to HD; they are very different diseases. We know that people with HD are more disinhibited than MSers, in particular early on in the disease. So what has sexual dysfunction in HD got to do with sexual dysfunction in MS? Poor study, poor comparator! Does MS need a comparator?”

“This study does highlight the problem of sexual dysfunction amongst MSers; it is a problem that is usually overlooked and seldom discussed in clinic.”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

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