How can I enjoy sexual activity with my motor-nerve disease?
As you know, MNDs have one thing in common: they affect the neurons responsible for movement which, in turn, can cause sexual problems.
For example, in one study,researchers from the Department of Neurology at Munich University Hospital found that the majority of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and their partners had a lower interest in sex and less sexual activity after the diagnosis than before.
Although sexual functioning typically isn’t affected by MND, weakness in the arms and legs and/or spasticity, as you noted, can make many sexual positions exhausting. Other people with MNDs also have a negative body image, or trouble with depression and communication…all of which can further affect their sexuality.
The good news is that there are a number of considerations that could make sex more enjoyable with MND. Depending on the stage of your disease, creativity in the bedroom can help. A knowledgeable, sex-positive physical therapist or occupational therapist might also offer you some good ideas about what could work best for you.
For starters, here are some ideas that you and your partner might want to try:
- Experiment with different positions.Because you mention spasms in your hands, try positions that take the weight off your arms and hands. Your partner could be on top, or try sitting and facing each other. You may also find it helpful to use pillows, chairs, or other props to provide support for you and your partner.
- Consider new ways to be intimate. In addition to ⎼ or in place of ⎼ trying new positions, you and your partner may find that other intimate activities (kissing, massage, cuddling, caressing) can help you both feel connected.
- Incorporate relaxing elements into sex. Add massage and soothing caresses into your sexual activity to calm your muscles and give them a chance to relax. You could also take a warm shower before (or during) sex.
- Be open with your partner. One of the most important aspects of sex with MND is communicating what you can and can’t do, which can help both partners continue to feel loved, trusted and wanted.
Thanks again for writing, and I wish you sexual fulfillment as you continue to adapt to living with a MND.
- Massachusetts General Hospital: Living with ALS: Sexuality & Intimacy
- The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain and Illness by Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette
Dr. Tepper directs sexual health education at SexualHealth.com. An AASECT-certified sexuality educator and counselor, his areas of expertise include sexual dysfunctions, sexuality following disability or illness, pleasure and orgasm, relationships, and military and veteran couples' counseling. Dr. Tepper was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.