The Top 10 Sex Tips for Men with Multiple Sclerosis

Why You Shouldn't Give Up On Sex

Senior couple hugging in park bench

As a chronic disease of the central nervous system, it's almost inevitable that multiple sclerosis (MS) will have an adverse impact on your sexual health. That doesn't mean, however, that your sex life is over. It just means that you may need to take a different approach. How can you maintain an enjoyable sex life despite MS?

1. Talk Openly With Your Partner

Good sex relies on open communication with your partner, whatever your health status.

As you experience different MS symptoms, many aspects of your relationship will change. You may need more help performing daily tasks or taking care of yourself than you did before. These changes will require patience, understanding, and experimentation on the part of both your partner and yourself. By maintaining good communication, you and your partner will be able to adapt to changes more easily.

2. Manage Other Health Conditions

Health conditions not directly related to your MS, like high blood pressure or arthritis, can make a healthy sex life difficult. By aggressively managing any health conditions, you can greatly reduce their impact on your sex life. 

3. Talk To Your Doctor

When you see your neurologist or other health care provider, you may tend to focus on neurological symptoms and signs, medication side effects, and changes in your mobility. But your sexual health is also worth discussing.

Your doctor cannot help you with your sexual concerns unless you mention them, as uncomfortable as this may be at first. And some sexual problems can actually be side effects of your medication. If your doctor knows about it, he can adjust the medications you're taking  or the dosages, or even suggest different times of day to take them.

And if you're doctor doesn't have the answers you're looking for, he may be able to refer you to some who does.

4. Experiment With Positions and Times

Varying your usual sexual positions can sometimes relieve sexual problems, especially if they're related to MS symptoms such as pain, weakness, or spasticity. You may also notice that your symptoms, such as fatigue, are better at certain times of day. Try having sex when you're feeling your best, even if this does not correspond to when you usually have sex. You may be surprised at the difference this makes.

5. Expand Your Concept of Sex

Men tend to think of sex only in terms of orgasms, but there can be a lot more to it. As you live with MS, you may need more time and physical contact to become aroused. You may also find it harder to stay in the moment. Hugging, kissing, and other forms of contact are essential parts of your sex life. Masturbation is part of a normal, healthy sex life as well.

6. Avoid Alcohol and Smoking

Both alcohol and smoking can hinder a man’s ability to achieve an erection by limiting the amount of blood that enters the penis.

7. Expect Difficulties

When changes occur, don’t panic. If you react emotionally to these problems, you can make them worse. By expecting some degree of sexual change as you age, you can react calmly and troubleshoot your situation.

8. Eat Healthy and Lose Weight

Being overweight puts a strain on your body that can result in high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions, all of which can interfere with a normal sex life. Try eating healthier and dropping that excess weight.

9. Stay Sexually Active

If you have a long period of time in your life when you are sexually inactive, it will be more difficult to become sexually active later. Not only can frequent sex improve your sexual performance, it can also help you live longer, help you feel better about yourself, and help you fight depression and stress.

10. Time Your Medications

Certain medications can impair (or help) sexual functioning. For instance:

  • If you take anticholinergics for bladder dysfunction, taking these 30 minutes before sex can minimize bladder contractions during sex. These include: Propantheline (Norpanth, Pro-Banthine), Tolterodine (Detrol tablets and Detrol LA extended-release capsules), Dicyclomine (Bentyl).
  • Medications for fatigue taken one hour before sex can put you at your peak energy level. These include Provigil and Symmetrel.
  • If you take antidepressants, these may be having a negative effect on your sex drive. Talk to your doctor if you think this might be the case, because certain antidepressants can have less of an effect than others.
  • If you self-inject (or have your partner inject you with) one of the disease-modifying medications, coordinate the timing of your injection with any possible sexual activity. Injections may cause so much stress or unpleasant side effects that sex right after a shot is completely out of the question. On the other hand, some men may get such a rush of relief after an injection that it puts them in the mood.


Nancy J. Holland and June Halper. Multiple Sclerosis: A Self-Care Guide to Wellness. New York: Demos Publishing. 2005.

Allison Shadday. MS and Your Feelings. Alameda: Hunter House Publishers, 2007.

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