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Sexuality and MS: Questions and Answers
What's new in sex research for people with MS?
Men with MS often have trouble getting and keeping an erection. This is also known as erectile difficulties. The first and most important step in dealing with erectile difficulties is to talk to your partner and your doctor. Depending on your health, there are a number of different options. A possible solution is taking a medication for erectile difficulties, such as sildenafil, tadalafil, or vardenafil. These medications work by increasing blood flow to the penis. Some men cannot use these medications because of medical conditions, allergies, side effects, or other medications they are taking.
What's on the horizon for men with MS? A new type of erection medications is being studied. Instead of working on the blood vessels the way sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil do, they work on specific areas in the brain that are involved in producing an erection. This may lead to medications that can safely be used in men who cannot take other erection medications.
Common sexual problems for women with MS include decreased desire, problems with lubrication, and reduced sensation. New areas of research include medications that can stimulate blood flow to the genitals, which can increase arousal and lubrication. Medications for erectile difficulties that are effective for men have not been proven to work in women. Another area that has been studied is using testosterone treatments to improve sex drive in women. Testosterone is a hormone that is thought to increase sexual desire.
More research is needed for MS-related sexual issues. Many new treatments for sexual problems have been studied in the general population, but not specifically in people with MS, so it is not known whether they will be equally effective for them.