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Abstract

Volume 14, Issue 4 (July 2012) 14, 530–535; 10.1038/aja.2011.110

Multiple sclerosis and sexual dysfunction

Zhen-Ni Guo, Si-Yuan He, Hong-Liang Zhang, Jiang Wu and Yi Yang

Department of Neurology, the First Norman Bethune Hospital of Jilin University, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, China

Correspondence: Dr HL Zhang, (drzhl@hotmail.com); Dr Y Yang, (doctor_yangyi@hotmail.com)

Received: 23 August 2011; Revised: 8 October 2011; Accepted: 5 December 2011; Published online: 26 March 2012

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system characterized by episodic and progressive neurologic dysfunction resulting from inflammatory and autoimmune reactions. The underlying pathogenesis of MS remains largely unclear. However, it is currently accepted as a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease. Among other clinical manifestations, sexual dysfunction (SD) is a painful but still underreported and underdiagnosed symptom of the disorder. SD in MS patients may result from a complex set of conditions and may be associated with multiple anatomic, physiologic, biologic, medical and psychological factors. SD arises primarily from lesions affecting the neural pathways involved in physiologic function. In addition, psychological factors, the side effects of medications and physical symptoms such as fatigue, muscular weakness, menstrual changes, pain and concerns about bladder and bowel incontinence may also be involved. Since MS primarily affects young people, SD secondary to MS may have a great impact on quality of life. Thus, maintaining a healthy sexual life with MS is an important priority. The treatment of SD requires multidisciplinary teamwork and cooperation among specialists, individual patients, partners and the society.

Keywords: demyelination; endocrine disorder; multiple sclerosis; sexual dysfunction

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