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The emasculation of MS

Well it works, that’s good. I just wish the first proper erection I’d had in a few years wasn’t at my local Starbucks.

My first rocky date with Viagra

I’ve suffered with depression on and off for most of my life, but MS had certainly made the visits to the dark edges a little more frequent and intense. Relatively quickly after my diagnosis it also began to take a toll on my sex drive and my erection.

My desire to go on as normal and not let MS affect my life in any way meant it took far longer than necessary to speak to a doctor, and to get a prescription for anti-depressants and Viagra.

I picked up both at the same time. Keen to start the anti-depressants asap, I popped a pill as soon as I sat down in the café - well so I thought!

About 40 minutes later, after a steamy chat with a stranger on a dating app, my trousers let me know that it may not have been the anti-depressant I took.

I very much saw the funny side of my pill mishap and left Starbucks pretty optimistic about my sexual future.

Jack doesn’t always get to climb the beanstalk

Now armed with the blue pill equivalent of the magic beans from Jack And The Beanstalk, it was time to test it out properly.

The first two ‘dates’ went great but the third…. Well, there wasn’t really any fear of the giant attacking as he had nothing to climb down!

Embarrassed and a bit upset I made a quick exit. I’d taken the pill 45 minutes beforehand as instructed so why didn’t it work?

Turns out there are many potential reasons from tiredness to a full stomach which can prevent it from working successfully every time.

My old friend anxiety also began to turn up for an unwanted threesome, and this I discovered, can also play a part in the drug’s effectiveness.

The manliest thing you can do is to be honest

I was depressed, anxious, couldn’t get it up and some days couldn’t get out of bed. I was not prepared for MS full stop, but I really wasn’t equipped for it to strip me of my masculinity.

The more its effect took hold, despite the aggressive treatment (Tysabri), the more insular I became about it as I was ashamed.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50 in the UK. Society has taught us to bury our feelings, our shame and our struggles and just ’man up’!

What I’ve learnt over time though, especially on my journey with MS, is that the manliest thing you can do is to be honest with yourself and those around you.

Living with MS requires a certain level of bravery, as we just don’t know from one day to the next what ‘fun’ it will throw our way. But we still move forward, make plans and live our life the best we can.

If we need help along the way then that really is perfectly fine. Speaking from experience, the best way to man up is to speak up.

What’s helped me manage erectile dysfunction.

  • viagra - it’s not a 100% guarantee but it has really helped me
  • speaking to my partner - honesty will create more intimacy and it will help take the fear away around sex
  • speaking to a therapist. With MS, the mental battle is sometimes harder than the physical battle and it’s OK to get help
Read more about the sexual problems men with MS may sometimes experience, and how to manage them
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What I’ve learnt over time though, especially on my journey with MS, is that the manliest thing you can do is to be honest with yourself and those around you.

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