Saturday, 7 December 2013

Female sexuality hit by MS

Epub: Gumus et al. Effects of Multiple Sclerosis on Female Sexuality: A Controlled Study. J Sex Med. 2013 Dec.

AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) on female sexuality.

METHODS: Present study included 142 females (70 MS patients, 72 healthy controls). MS patients were evaluated by Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) for functional status, by Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) for severity of depression, by Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for severity of pain, and by Female Sexual Function Inventory (FSFI) for sexual function.

RESULTS: The number of weekly sexual intercourse, total FSFI, and FSFI subscale scores were lower in MS women compared with controls. FSFI total and FSFI subscale scores were statistically significantly lower in MS women with BDI score ≥17 compared with those with BDI score <17. A negative correlation was found between total FSFI score and BDI, EDSS, VAS, age, and duration of complaint, but a positive correlation was found with education level in MS women.

CONCLUSIONS: Sexual functions are negatively affected in MS women. Sexual functions in MS women seem to be associated with enhanced disability, pain, duration of the disease, and degree of concomitant depression. Therefore, women with MS should also be evaluated in terms of sexual function during routine follow-ups.

I have been chastised as some insensitive brute when making these posts, so I will keep my mouth shut and leave it for you to read...

The Female Sexual Function inventory interrogates 19 items that assess 6 domains of sexual functioning: sexual desire, sexual arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. Scoring: Each item is rated on a scale ranging from 0 to 5 or 1 to 5. A score of 0 indicates that the respondent reported having no sexual activity in the past month. Individual domain scores can be obtained by adding the scores of the individual items that comprise the domain and multiplying the sum by the domain factor (i.e., 0.6 for desire, 0.3 for arousal and lubrication, and 0.4 for the other three domains). A full scale score can be obtained by adding the scores for the six domains. Click here to read about it.

As you have problems in this area speak to your Neuro or Nurse. 

If you are woman with MS we would like you to complete index to see how common sexual dysfunction is amongst our female readers.


  1. Mouse,

    Not a dig at you, but I'm fed up with this sort of research which shows MSers how crap we are. The researchers seem to be expert at devising tools and scales to measure our spasticity, slowness in walking, cognitive impairment, sexual disfunction, high divorce rates, high suicide rates, visual problems, brain atrophy etc etc. it's all depressing stuff (I'm sure there's a scale to measure how depressed we are), for those of us with the disease. The question I have is what's being done about it? I'm not talking highly effective early treatment, as many of us are past this stage. I'm talking repair either through re-myelination or some other approach to neurorestoration. Is any researcher working on this, or are they all just coming up with news ways of showing us how dreadful it is to live with MS?

  2. Anon 9:34 am - Yes, your post resonates with me. This blog is not for the faint hearted!

  3. Thanks anon 9.34, you have captured everything i hate about this disease and the ever expanding research world that goes with it. They never ask us what we want. All i want is to get my health back and be well again. Silly me to want something so fundamental. Much too difficult for the research teams to deliver on. Instead we hAve neuroprotective trials (lamotrigine and cupid) which fail because they are poorly designed. The we have potentially very effective drugs such as alemtuzumab, but tey take 20 years to deliver and then they don't get approval by those responsible for assessing whether they are cost effective. How difficult can it be for the research teams to understand that repair is what we are seeking. This such a no hope disease - no hope of stopping it and no hope of repairing damage. We are expected to watch ourselves and our families / careers deteriorate. No wonde suicide rates are so much higher for those of us with this disease.

  4. Well said Anon 9.34... how about research into how some of us manage to stay cheerful in the face of adversity - surely that would show the fortitude and bloody mindedness that exists, in the MS community, and maybe other people could learn from it! Otherwise yes, it is depressing to find our limitations being scrutinized in this way....

  5. I think everybody just wants a piece of the therapy pie. I just finished participating in a research study where occupational therapy students tried an intervention for fatigue in MS. I learned to sleep more, exercise regularly, organize better...pretty much stuff you'd read in a ladies' magazine. When I read studies like this sex one, I think, "Oh great, they're going to offer us one more pill."

  6. Actually, I think it's useful to know it's not just me... not just a random problem possibly my fault, but instead it's this damned disease interfering. But yes, depressing to know the scale and scope of what's affected.

    Research that would be useful would be finding the patients that are coping better, are staying happier, and identifying the difference in what they do. Echoing Bouncy here, but he or she is right. Psychologists like Emmons and Csikszentmihalyi have been studying what goes into happiness and well being. Also stoic philosophers, Buddhist teachers offer techniques for coping with seriously unfair outcomes in life. We, especially, need that sort of insight as we work with the hand we've been dealt.

  7. We are a slave to the content of the research world. If we only posted on repair it would be science fiction from animals and something that is going to take time tto filter through. I hope 2014 will be year for repair as trials get kick started. However how long will it take to report i suspect not 2014. We could try to post the good news but that is not the ethos and i think the choice of posts is also about knowing that you are not alone.
    It would be good if the researchers did focus on things that can be used for positive impact. However that would need to be good quuality study if it is to properly inform. It iseasierfor clinicans to do small chaff studies.

  8. I think the one thing that these depressing questionnaires/studies can do is put the potential misery of MS into some sort of quantifiable form so that results can be shouted at the regulators/commissioners/NICE/whoever so that they can perhaps understand better why treatments that work should be approved/paid for in a timely manner. They also need to be told how bad the disease is so that people willing to take bigger risks are allowed potentially better treatment.

    I agree however that being barraged by unfixable negative aspects of the disease is very disheartening.

  9. My issue with posts like this (and it's not a criticism as I imagine copyright prevents printing more than the abstract) is we really don't get a flavour for the scale of the problem from the post. The data is everything in something like this.

    How much lower was the mean FSFI? It could have been very marginally lower, just within the realms of statistical significance, or it could have been dramatically lower - indicating a relatively small issue. What % of the MSers did not have a lower FSFI than the controls - i.e. what's the prevalence of this issue and is it a few people with really low FSFI or most people with a smaller difference?

    There's also a wider issue with questionnaire based surveys, I think, where MS is concerned. A bit like the placebo effect but in opposite, we MSers tend to scrutinise our health much more closely than others and also attribute everything we then 'feel' to MS. I do believe - and I absolutely include myself in this - that we 'feel' other normal health issues more deeply as a result. When asked about our health therefore in a questionnaire, the kind of hyper-vigilance makes us inclined to be produce different responses even to healthy individuals with exactly the same issues as us. MS fatigue is an example. It is, I should say, absolutely a huge and very real issue. However, the day after I was told I had MS, I felt more fatigued and 'ill' than the day before - and that's not attributable to a change overnight in my actual condition.

    That's not a comment on this particular survey, just a point that I think is worth bearing in mind when looking at questionnaire based research.

  10. Why is the female sexual function survey mostly about intercourse. Women do have other ways of reaching orgasim

    1. RE: "Why is the female sexual function survey mostly about intercourse?"

      Good point; it was probably designed by a male.


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