Let’s talk about sex – your questions answered

Love heart sweets

When was the last time you thought about sex? And when was the last time you talked about sex? I mean really talked – a proper face-to-face conversation with another adult, not a joke down the pub or a comment on a super sexy TV show.

Sex is often on our minds, but not often talked about. And that’s a shame, because talking about sex often leads to better sex.

But it can be hard finding the right time and the right words. And if MS is throwing extra challenges at your sex life, that can make it harder still.

Paul works on our MS Helpline, and previously worked as a sexual health practitioner. Here, he answers your questions about talking about sex – with partners and health care professionals.

If you’re looking for information about sex and MS symptoms, check out the first part of Paul’s Q&A.

If you have MS

Q. I find it difficult to talk about my sexual needs, especially if I meet someone new who doesn’t know that I have MS. What can I do?

A. There are different ways to talk about sex. You could start by talking about the sort of touch that you enjoy and, as you trust the person more, you could include playful chat about how you like to be kissed and the sorts of sexual activities that you like.

There’s no right time to tell someone about your MS, so you’ll need to decide about this based on the level of trust that you feel for the person. Talking about sex gets much easier the more you do it, so find someone you trust and have a conversation.

> Read how Shana learned to tell a partner what she needs

Q. I’m in the LGBTQ+ community and I’m having sexual problems that I want to discuss with my GP. I tried to raise this before, but the GP seemed to make assumptions about me based on my sexual orientation, so I didn’t disclose the full extent of the problem. Is there anything else I can do?

If there are other GPs in the practice, you could try seeing them.

You could also try visiting your local sexual health clinic to explain the problem as they often have specific training or clinics to ensure that anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ receives a good service.

They may have a sex therapist or other clinic worker who provides information and advice specifically for people who identify as LGBTQ+, so it’s always worth asking about this.

Q. I’ve been having sexual difficulties for quite a long time now. I have a great neurologist and we talk about everything. But I feel too embarrassed to bring this up. How can I talk to the doctors about this?

There are different ways that you could try. One way might be to say that you were reading this blog post about sex and it raised some issues that you want to talk about.

If it seems too difficult to take say the actual words then you could write the problem in note form and hand this to the neurologist.

You could also print out this Q&A or take one of our publications with you that describes the problem you are having, point to the relevant section and say that this affects you.

Medical practitioners are used to receiving information in different ways, so do whatever will make it easiest for you.

If your partner has MS

Q. My partner has MS and, since he was diagnosed, he seems to have lost all interest in sex and won’t even let me cuddle him. I don’t want to talk to him about this in case he gets upset. What can I do?

A. Letting him know that you’re there for him can be a good start, as it can feel like a lonely place for someone when they are first diagnosed.

Small acts of kindness to show that you care can lead to gentle touching, foot rubs, or other physical things to make him feel relaxed.

Arousal doesn’t have to involve penetration, so talk about different ways that you can both feel aroused and then try them.

For things to change, someone has to start a discussion when the time feels right. Hopefully, through open discussion you can negotiate a new kind of sex life that’s good for both of you.

Q. I do intimate personal care for my partner who has MS. After taking her to the toilet and showering her, I no longer feel like having sex together so I just masturbate on my own, which I know upsets her. Is there anything I can do?

A. Being a carer and a lover at the same time can sometimes be challenging. But talking together about the issues may help you feel closer again which can lead to increased desire for sex.

Perhaps someone else could sometimes take over the personal care for your partner?

If getting into different sexual positions is difficult, you might want to consider masturbating together.

Sex may need a bit more planning but that can add to the fun too.

> Got a question about something not covered here? Join our online community to find support from people who know what you’re going through

Read more blogs about sex and MS

Sexual advice

The Sexual Advice Association is a charity which helps improve the sexual health and wellbeing of men and women - www.sda.uk.net

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