Msif 06 pp1-28 • english
MS in Focus Issue One • 2003
Issue One • 2002 MS in focus
Issue 6 • 2005
The Magazine of the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Executive Editor Nancy Holland, EdD, RN, MSCN, Vice
President, Clinical Programs and Professional Resource Centre, National Multiple Sclerosis Society USA.
Editor and Project Leader Michele Messmer Uccelli, BA,
MSIF is a unique collaboration of national MS MSCS, Department of Social and Health Research, Italian societies and the international scientific Multiple Sclerosis Society, Genoa, Italy.
Managing Editor Helle Elisabeth Lyngborg, Information
and Communications Manager, Multiple Sclerosis It leads the global MS movement in sharingbest practice to significantly improve the quality of life of people affected by MS and in Editorial Assistant Chiara Provasi, MA, Project Co-
stimulating research into the understanding ordinator, Department of Social and Health Research, Italian and treatment of the condition.
Multiple Sclerosis Society, Genoa, Italy.
MSIF Responsible Board Member
Our priorities are: Prof Dr Jürg Kesselring, Chair of MSIF International Medical • Stimulating global research• Stimulating the active exchange of and Scientific Board, Head of the Department of Neurology, Rehabilitation Centre, Valens, Switzerland.
• Providing support for the development of Editorial Board Members
new and existing MS societies Guy Ganty, Head of the Speech and Language Pathology Department, National Multiple Sclerosis Centre, Melsbroek, All of our work is carried out with thecomplete involvement of people living Katrin Gross-Paju, PhD, Estonian Multiple Sclerosis Centre, West Tallinn Central Hospital, Tallinn, Estonia.
Marco Heerings, RN, MA, MSCN, Nurse Practitioner, Groningen University Hospital, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Designed and produced by
Kaye Hooper, BA, RN, RM, MPH, MSCN, Nurse Consultant Cambridge Publishers Ltd 275 Newmarket Road Cambridge Martha King, Director of Publications, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, USA.
Elizabeth McDonald, MBBS, FAFRM, RACP, Medical Director, MS Society of Victoria, Australia.
Elsa Teilimo, RN, UN Linguist, Finnish Representative, Persons with MS International Committee. Chloe Neild, Information Management Coordinator, MS Cover image courtesy of Honoria Starbuck, PhD, Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Life Drawing Instructor, Art Institute Online Copy Editor
Emma Mason, BA, Essex, UK.
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Letter from the Editor Sexuality and intimate relationships are a significant part of life and well-being. For mostpeople, sexuality and its expression are a natural Introduction to Intimacy and and important component of self-concept, emotional well-being, and overall quality of life.
Sexual dysfunction in Factors such as culture, religion and self-esteem contribute to how a person experiences sexuality. While MS mayalter functioning, the desire for a sexual identity, love, affection Sexual dysfunction in men and intimacy remains. Given this, sexuality may be a source of significant frustration for many people with MS.
Secondary causes of This issue of MS in focus presents a discussion of intimacy and sexuality. Often these topics are not easy to discuss. This is truefor people with MS as well as for many healthcare professionals.
Tertiary causes of For some individuals and couples living with MS, intimacy and sexuality receive little or no priority, and instead their focus andemotional resources are concentrated on dealing with other Your questions answered problems related to the disease.
Interview with Rolande Cutner Whether a person is in an intimate relationship or not, it is achallenge to maintain a sexual identity and take care of one's MS Society of Norway: Support sexual self-esteem (how one feels about oneself as a sexual group for lesbians and gay men being) while dealing with a chronic illness such as MS. It is with multiple sclerosis particularly challenging in cultures where society placesimportance on qualities that are not always consistent with Results of the online survey chronic illness, such as beauty, health and independence. Quality of Life Principles With this issue of MS in focus we hope to increase awarenessof the fact that sexual problems are a direct result of demyelination, can be a result of other MS symptoms and that Subscription details psychological, social and cultural aspects influence anindividual's sexuality.
The next issue of MS in focus will be on We also hope that this issue will serve as a resource for Rehabilitation. Send questions and professionals who encounter difficulties in discussing intimacy letters to [email protected] or marked for and sexuality issues with people with MS. the attention of Michele Messmer Michele Messmer Uccelli, Editor
Uccelli at the Italian MS Society, ViaOperai 40, Genoa, Italy 16149.
Editorial Statement The content of MS in focus is based on professional knowledge and experience. The editor andauthors endeavour to provide relevant and up-to-date information. Information provided through MSin focus is not intended to substitute for advice, prescription or recommendation from a physician orother healthcare professional. For specific, personalised information, consult your healthcareprovider. MSIF does not approve, endorse or recommend specific products or services, butprovides information to assist people in making their own decisions.
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
sexuality in MS
By Fred Foley, PhD, Bernard Gimbel MS Center, New Jersey and Albert Einstein
College of Medicine, New York, USA Multiple sclerosis can cause changes that affect Sexual changes in MS:
one's usual ways of expressing sexuality. Everyone frequency and characteristics
with MS retains the capacity to give and receive love Studies have been completed on the prevalence of and pleasure, although creative problem-solving is sexual and relationship problems in MS in a number sometimes necessary to find avenues for intimate of countries. Although normal sexual function expression. Understanding how MS symptoms changes throughout the lifespan, MS can affect an might affect intimacy and sexuality represents a individual's sexual experience in a variety of ways.
crucial step towards overcoming obstacles Studies on the prevalence of sexual problems in MS effectively. Whether one is newly diagnosed, indicate that 40-80 per cent of women and 50-90 physically disabled, young, mature, single or in a per cent of men have sexual complaints or concerns.
committed relationship, MS does not diminish the The most frequently reported changes in men are a universal human need to give and receive love and diminished capacity to attain or maintain an erection, intimate pleasure. and difficulty having an orgasm. The most frequentchanges that women report are a partial or total lossof libido (sexual desire), vaginal dryness/irritation,diminished orgasm, and uncomfortable sensorychanges in the genitals. Sexual changes in MS can best be characterised asprimary, secondary, or tertiary in nature. Primarysexual dysfunction stems from changes to thenervous system that directly impair the sexualresponse and/or sexual feelings. Primarydisturbances can include partial or total loss of libido(sexual desire), unpleasant or decreased sensationsin the genitals, decreased vaginal lubrication orerectile capacity, and decreased frequency and/orintensity of orgasm. Secondary sexual dysfunctionrefers to MS-related physical changes that indirectlyaffect the sexual response. Bladder and/or boweldysfunction, fatigue, spasticity, muscle weakness, MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
problems with attention and concentration, hand (middle) and sacral (lower) spinal cord and genitals tremors, and non-genital changes in sensation are throughout the sexual response cycle. Since MS can amongst the most common MS symptoms that can result in randomly distributed lesions along many of cause secondary sexual dysfunction. Tertiary sexual these myelinated pathways, it is not surprising that dysfunction results from psychosocial and cultural changes in sexual function are reported so issues that can interfere with sexual feelings and frequently. The good news is that there are likely to sexual response. Depression, performance anxiety, be neurologic pathways that mediate aspects of changes in family roles, lowered self-esteem, body- sexual feelings and response that are widely image concerns, loss of confidence, and internalised distributed and therefore unaffected by MS lesions.
beliefs and expectations about what defines a"sexual man" or a "sexual woman" in the context of The subsequent articles in this issue of MS in focus having a disability, can all be expressions of, or will discuss in greater detail the important aspects of contribute to, tertiary sexual dysfunction.
sexual functioning as related to MS, includingstrategies for enhancing sexual desire, The central nervous system
communicating with a sexual partner and managing and sexual response
other symptoms of the disease that can inhibit Sexual response is mediated by the central nervous sexual expression.
system – the brain and spinal cord. There is nosingle sexual centre in the central nervous system.
Unfortunately, healthcare providers rarely bring up Many different areas of the brain are involved in the subject of sexuality, because of personal various aspects of sexual functioning, including sex discomfort, lack of professional training in this area, drive, perception of sexual stimuli and pleasure, or fears of being overly intrusive. It is critical to movement, sensation, cognition, and attention.
discuss changes in sexual feelings and strategies Sexual messages are communicated between and treatments that are available to enhance various sections of the brain, thoracic (upper), lumbar Body Mapping
Developing a "sensory body map" to explore the exact locations of pleasant, decreased, or altered
sensations can improve intimate communication and set the stage for increasing pleasure.
Conduct a "sensory body mapping" exercise Next, inform your partner of your "body map" (15 – 20 minutes): information and instruct him/her in touching Begin by systematically touching the body you in a similar fashion.
from head to toe (or all those places you cancomfortably reach).
Have your partner provide the sameinformation for you (about his or her "body Conduct this exercise without your clothes on, map"). Take turns providing pleasure to each in a place that is private, relaxing, and a other, without engaging in sex or trying to Vary the rate, rhythm, and pressure of your touch.
Remember, the emphasis is on communication Note areas of sensual pleasure, discomfort, or and pleasure, not sex or orgasm. This exercise sensory change. Alter your pattern of touch to sets the stage to rediscover pleasure in the face maximise the pleasure you feel (without trying of reduced desire.
to obtain sexual satisfaction or orgasm).
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
in women with MS
By Farida Sharon van Rey, MD, Female sexual dysfunction is very common inwomen with neurological conditions, including MS.
Neuro-urology Research Fellow, The majority of women with MS suffer from sexualdysfunction at some stage of the disease. Compared University Medical Centre St.
to a general female population, in which 20-50 per Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands cent of women are affected, the prevalence ofsexual dysfunction is estimated to be as high as 80per cent in women with MS. Sexual dysfunction hasa major impact on quality of life and interpersonalrelationships. For many women it is a physicallydisquieting, emotionally disturbing and sociallydisruptive disorder. In spite of its high prevalence,these aspects of an individual's well-being havebeen considerably neglected until recently, makingfemale sexual dysfunction a very important but oftenoverlooked symptom of MS. How the body behaves during the sexual
Two basic physical processes that occur during the
sexual response: vasocongestion and myotonia.
Vasocongestion refers to the concentration of bloodin the blood vessels and the tissues of the genitalsand breasts. In women, this inflow of blood causesthe clitoris to enlarge, the labia to swell, and thevagina to lubricate. Myotonia, or neuromuscular tension, refers to theincrease of energy in the nerves and muscles.
During sexual activity, myotonia takes placethroughout the body, not only in the genital region,but throughout the trunk, particularly in the breastand chest wall. For women, vasocongestion in the vaginal walls The sexual response centres in women causes vaginal secretion to seep through the vaginal MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
lining, moistening the inner surface of the vagina.
reduced vaginal lubrication and difficulty with arousal The amount of lubrication or "wetness" present in (35 per cent), and difficulty or inability reaching the vagina does not necessarily coincide with a orgasm (72 per cent). Pain during intercourse is also woman's degree of arousal or desire for intercourse.
a frequently reported symptom in women with MS, Swelling of the clitoris and of the labia also occurs in which may be due to vaginal dryness, spasticity or response to vasocongestion during the excitement hypersensitivity. phase. In addition, the inner two-thirds of the vaginalengthens and expands, the cervix and uterus elevate, and the outer lips of the vagina flatten and Since the sexual response in women with MS is separate. Nipples may become erect, breasts slightly related to many different factors, a enlarged, and the veins in the breasts may appear comprehensive assessment of all these aspects more visible.
must be taken into account. An evaluation shouldconsist of a full medical history, physical How and why MS can affect sexual
examination and pelvic examination. Although sexual dysfunction in women with MS often has a Sexual dysfunction in women has many causes and neurological cause, its evaluation is not always effects. Abnormalities in blood circulation, hormonal included in routine clinical practice. Often it is state, nerve functioning and mental well-being may possible for a clinician to become aware of a influence sexual functioning. Therefore, one or more problem and begin to evaluate it based on of these factors can result in sexual dysfunction.
information provided by the individual during the Lesions in the brain can interfere with the inter- visit, in response to a few relevant questions.
pretation of sexual stimuli as arousing, while lesions Initiating these questions is not always part of the of the spinal cord can interfere in the transmission healthcare professionals' routine, with the result of arousing nerve signals to the genitals. Lesions in that important information is missed by the the sacral (lower) spinal cord can also cause professional and problems experienced by the primary sexual dysfunction, by inhibiting or person with MS are left unaddressed. preventing vasocongestion, resulting in diminishedor absent clitoral swelling and/or vaginal lubrication.
Oestrogen creams may be useful for women
In primary sexual dysfunction, MS lesions in the experiencing vaginal dryness, pain or burning.
spinal cord may make it difficult to sustain Another treatment for these symptoms is a vaginal clitoral/vaginal engorgement during the plateau suppository, although this form may not be available phase (between arousal and orgasm). In addition, in all countries. Unfortunately, many of the sensory changes in the genitals can interrupt or medications that appear to be effective for the diminish nerve signals that initiate and/or maintain treatment of male sexual dysfunction related to MS vasocongestion at both the spinal cord and cerebral have proved either to be ineffective for other cortex (brain) levels. symptoms of female sexual dysfunction or have notbeen studied fully at this time. Types and frequencies
Approximately 80 per cent of women with MS
experience sexual dysfunction at some time during Sexual dysfunction is highly prevalent among the course of the disease. Some women stop women with MS. Assessment and treatment of engaging in sexual relations while others these problems is complicated. Addressing sexual (approximately 40 per cent) have reported that problems during routine visits is important in participating in sexual relations is significantly identifying and managing symptoms that can have unsatisfactory. Symptoms most commonly reported a negative impact on an individual's personal life as include reduced genital sensation (48 per cent), well as on the life of the couple.
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
in men with MS
By Douglas W. Lording, Medical Director, Melbourne Andrology Centre, Victoria, Australia
Sexual activity for men usually requires the co-ordinationof arousal, penile erection and orgasm includingejaculation, along with the many other emotional andrelationship components that are integral for satisfaction.
Direct disruption of nerve pathways controlling erectionand ejaculation are common.
An erection occurs when there is relaxation of the
muscle cells in the wall of the penile blood vessels
and the erectile tissue, leading to the penis filling
with blood. Relaxation of these muscle cells is
initiated by nitric oxide (NO) release from nerves
coming from the lower spinal cord. The messages
transmitted by these nerves usually arise in the
brain and pass down to the lower spinal cord.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the commonest sexual
dysfunction in men and usually is due to disease of
the vascular or neurological systems, but
psychosexual influences are also important. ED
can have a major impact on self-esteem,
relationships and general well-being.
In men with MS, lesions in the spinal cord thatinterfere with the passage of nerve impulses fromthe brain may cause ED. The limited studies of The sexual response centres in men men with MS indicate that ED is a frequentsymptom, often affecting younger men and These responses are also triggered by nerve sometimes affecting fertility.
impulses that traverse the spinal cord fromimportant brain centres.
At ejaculation there is widespread muscle
Often, delayed ejaculation and complete failure of contraction in the pelvic area that leads to ejaculation (anejaculation) are caused by disruption expulsion of the semen and much of the sensation of the nerve pathways and may be part of a associated with the broader response of orgasm.
broader orgasmic failure. MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Ejaculatory disturbances also occur in MS, underlying disorder. However, consideration although there is less information about the should always be given to improving potentially prevalence. Anti-depressant medications (see reversible aspects. Drugs used to modify MS page 16) that may be used in MS often cause progression also could help.
ejaculatory problems as a side-effect. Some menwith MS may develop premature ejaculation The most commonly used medications act to because of anxiety about their disease.
enhance the relaxation of muscle cells in thepenis. Sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil all act in this way through a similar mechanism. They are Testosterone is active in several brain centres safe, well-tolerated medications and observation important for sexual thoughts and desire (libido) of their use in MS and spinal cord injury confirm a and low levels are associated with depression high efficacy, with about three-quarters of men and obesity, both of which can relate to MS.
experiencing satisfactory outcomes.
Frequently, desire is affected by factors otherthan the direct physical component of the Education about how to achieve the best results disease, and this is particularly so in MS where is the most important aspect of the use of these other physical and psychological factors, such as medications. They need to be taken at least half fatigue, may play a major role.
an hour before sex, but some couples find theidea of premeditating their sexual experience off- putting, and this often interferes with treatment.
Not all men with ED (or even health Normal sexual stimulation is required to initiate professionals) find it easy to talk about sex, and the erection, therefore the couple needs to be in they may not raise this distressing issue. It is the mood for sex. Apprehension about the important to note that sexual dysfunction is outcome may result in less than optimal results diagnosed by taking a careful history; there are for the first few doses. Persistence, medical no diagnostic tests. Men with MS may have other review and re-instruction are important for causes of sexual dysfunction and the assessment successful results.
should take this into account. Simple blood teststo exclude diabetes, high cholesterol and testosterone deficiency are recommended.
These drugs can cause mild headaches, flushing, Careful assessment of the impact of medications nasal congestion, indigestion and muscle aches, and substance use is important.
but these adverse effects usually do not precludetheir use. When sildenafil was launched, much The importance of assessing both the man with was said of possible adverse cardiac effects and MS and his partner cannot be over-emphasised,particularly if initial treatment is not successful.
Tips for successful treatment
This will require more developed skills that not alldoctors will have.
• Discuss sexual dysfunction
• Involve both partners
Treating erectile dysfunction
The neurologist or MS nurse should ask men with Go through the history carefully MS if they are having erectile dysfunction. If they • Do not forget non-MS causes
do, the impact of this important disorder needs to • Use medications properly
be assessed and, if it is considered significant, afull range of treatment options should be • Consider sex in broad terms
discussed. Treatment is usually erection- • Be prepared to experiment
promoting medications rather than treating the MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
this still worries some men and their partners.
There is a potentially harmful reaction with allthese drugs when used with nitrates (mainly usedto treat angina), and men with active heartdisease, for whom the level of physical activityduring sexual intercourse is potentiallydangerous, should use these drugs with caution. Alternative ED treatments
If these drugs do not work or cannot be safely
used, injecting drugs into the penis or the use of
mechanical aides may be helpful. Prostaglandin
E1 can be injected directly into the penis. This
relaxes the muscle cells and usually induces a
hard, lasting erection. Significant dexterity and
common sense are essential for self-injection.
Penile pain, nodular scarring within the erectile
bodies and unduly prolonged erection may occur.
The dosing regimen prescribed must be followed
Some men with partial ED can obtain a gooderection using a penile ring, usually combinedwith a vacuum device. The latter draws moreblood into the penis while the ring, applied afterblood flow into the penis is sufficient, reduces prosthesis can be implanted so that cylinders blood flow out of the penis. If all else fails, a penile implanted into the shaft of the penis can be filledfrom a fluid reservoir placed in the scrotum.
Getting the best
Treatment of ejaculatory disorders and low
from ED medications
1. Ensure mechanism of action is Unlike ED, there is no medication that acts understood, in particular: directly to improve ejaculatory problems or lowdesire. Emphasis will be on optimising physical a. Timing of dosing and emotional well-being. The ED drugs are often b. Need for normal sexual stimulation tried where there is difficulty achieving ejaculation c. Effect of food and alcohol and orgasm, as there is often a degree of ED as 2. Allow at least four attempts at using the well. In addition, there is usually heightened stimulation with a harder erection. Different 3. Address secondary and tertiary sexual positions help some men to be more stimulated and some benefit from mechanical assistance, forexample using a vibrator.
4. Review outcome of treatment after Couples should be reassured that satisfying sex 5. Remember support and understanding can be achieved without full erection and penetration, and that partner satisfaction can beachieved by a variety of stimulating techniques. MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
of sexual problems
By Dorothea C. Pfohl, RN MSCN, MS Center Clinical Co-ordinator,
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA MS changes can affect sexual response by making find creative ways to keep the physical expressions sexual activity difficult physically and emotionally.
Symptoms common to MS, such as fatigue orchanges in muscle tone, lack of coordination or pain, A person who does not feel well or thinks of himself can frustrate sexual expression and extinguish or herself as unattractive because of a less-than- desire. Bowel and bladder dysfunction can inhibit perfect body may shun sex or find their love life and cause embarrassment. Cognitive changes deteriorating. People who are not in a relationship challenge the most devoted couple, yet in the may be reluctant to date and develop new love presence of any of these symptoms, it is possible to interests. Secondary sexual dysfunction often MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
indirectly affects sexual response and ability to available help can lessen anxiety. Planning for rest perform in both men and women with MS. time together can lessen fatigue and Sexual complaints are common in the general simultaneously meet the need for additional time population and are capable of having a profound impact on quality of life and relationships. Addingchronic illness to the picture makes problems more Medications are available which can be used to likely, yet such concerns and complaints are not counteract fatigue, but others actually contribute to always shared with partners or healthcare it. If medication side-effects are suspected to be professionals. Nevertheless, strategies exist which worsening the fatigue, a schedule adjustment can be employed to cope with and manage could provide respite. A dose can be timed to allow symptoms, promote intimacy, strengthen for more energy when intimacy is planned.
relationships and encourage sexual pleasure and Disease-modifying therapy schedules, like other medications, should be reviewed with a healthcareprovider who can advise and educate about adjustments that minimise untoward effects. At Fatigue is perhaps the most common symptom times, a dose can be skipped or postponed to avoid reported by people with MS, and it can be the most the side-effect that is getting in the way of sexual disabling. For a complete discussion on the different performance or interest.
types and causes of fatigue, see Issue 1 of MS infocus (January 2003). Regardless of the type orcause of fatigue, it can have a negative affect on Both the person with MS and the interest in sex and lead to a reluctance to initiate partner deserve to have their lovemaking, or even an avoidance of intimacy. The sensitivities and willingness to accept well partner may misunderstand this "disinterest"and loss of pleasure and resent the person with MS.
or reject various forms of sexual This may come at a time when they are assuming additional responsibilities, coping with changingroles or it may be perceived as a personal rejection.
Often, partners fear hurting the person with MS.
Effective communication requires that feelings beshared and dealt with openly and honestly, thusmaking it possible to explore options for maintaininga satisfactory sexual relationship despite physicalchanges.
Energy conservation measures can be employed tomanage fatigue. These techniques can be appliedto sexual issues as well. Time for intimacy may needto be prioritised, perhaps for the time of day whenthe person with MS has the most energy. Onecouple set up a weekly "date" when both could takea long lunch. Planning and anticipating their timetogether during the day when the children were atschool became a pleasure in itself. Lifestylechanges may need to be made when there are notenough hours in the day to accomplish all thatneeds to be done. Simplifying tasks and accepting MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
go hand in hand with sexual dysfunction, since Muscle weakness may necessitate alterations in nerve pathways are shared or close to each other.
sexual practices. Comfort measures, such as Incontinence, or even fear of having an accident, properly placed pillows, provide additional support can cause a person to avoid sex entirely, thus and can be playfully used to "set the scene" for depriving them of the closeness it brings. romance. Discussing new positions and variousexpressions of sexuality, such as massage or oral There are many ways to deal with involuntary sex, can add excitement to the relationship and elimination, but discussing the possibility of losing boost, rather than diminish, self-image. Partners urine or stool during sex, and having a plan should it may or may not be comfortable with such variations occur defuses the situation and can allow the or may be unwilling to engage in "sex play". Both the couple to manage their concerns without spoiling person with MS and the partner deserve to have the moment. Bowel and bladder rehabilitation plans their sensitivities and willingness to accept or reject can include toileting regimens designed for the various forms of sexual pleasuring respected.
unique needs of individuals and couples. For Rejecting an alternative that compensates for example, steps such as limiting fluid intake for a few limitations imposed by MS symptoms need not be a hours before sexual activity can be effective. For rejection of the person, and other ideas can be men, leakage of small amounts of urine can be managed by wearing a condom. For both sexes,simply padding the bed well can help everyone De-conditioning (weakness from inactivity) can be relax. Another strategy is performing intermittent helped by a fitness programme modified to work self-catheterisation prior to intimacy. This technique with the person's physical limitations. Kegel serves to empty the bladder completely, giving the exercises are a type of exercise that can improve person more confidence that he or she will not be decreased vaginal tone by strengthening the pelvic embarrassed by an accident during sexual floor muscles. See Issue 2 of MS in focus (July 2003) for information on how pelvic floor exercisesare performed.
Urinary tract infections are common in MS and aresometimes aggravated by sexual activity. Proper Lack of coordination and tremor
evaluation and treatment of bladder problems can Lack of coordination may make sex and sexual go far to maintaining quality of life and expression feel clumsy, as can tremor. But besides independence. In-dwelling catheters make the being awkward, these symptoms may also interfere logistics of intercourse difficult but not impossible.
with the couple's style of having sex. It must be With advice from a healthcare provider, often the remembered that persons with MS still have needs bag can be emptied and then clamped for a period for contraception and protection from sexually of time. Taping a long drainage tube to a woman's transmitted disease, but previously-used methods abdomen can avoid pulling and will place the may no longer be practical. A partner may need to catheter well out of the way. Similarly, a catheter in help with the condom or insert the diaphragm and it the penis can be folded back on itself, clamped and may be difficult to change from being a care partner taped and a condom placed over it all.
to being a lover. Again, good communicationbetween partners and advice from professionals can minimise embarrassment and maximise Pain can impact significantly on interest in sex as closeness and pleasure.
well as performance ability. Medications used torelieve pain may add to sleepiness or fatigue.
Bowel and bladder problems
Understanding the type of pain can influence the Another source of anxiety and distress can be best way to manage it. Muscle tightness, intense bowel and bladder disturbances. These problems itching and spasticity may all be called "pain".
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Medications that bring relief must be well chosen expectations from performance-oriented sex, where for the type of pain they treat and used in just the intercourse is seen as the only desirable outcome, right dose and frequency to give relief with the least can be liberating and allows for pleasuring and disadvantageous side-effects. An extra or well- sexual satisfaction despite the limitations of timed dose before intimacy can often provide impaired mobility.
effective symptom management and reassure thepartner that he/she is not adding to discomfort. It is also important that a symptom such as adductor Cognitive changes can be amongst the most spasms (which cause involuntary pulling together of potentially damaging to the relationship, since they the legs) is not seen as an indication of the person's can undermine the person's sense of who he/she interest or willingness to have sex. Again, is. A partner may feel this is no longer the person communication is the key to avoiding they once knew. Changes in attention and misunderstanding and hurt feelings. Water soluble concentration may be perceived as lack of interest lubricants can make intercourse more comfortable, or love, and may irreparably strain the relationship.
without predisposing to urinary tract infection.
Changes in mood, memory loss and depression canbe frightening, frustrating and sometimes infuriating. All interfere with intimacy. Individual or Changes in sensation can also interfere with sexual couples counselling may be advised. pleasure (see page 5 on body mapping). Non-genitalsymptoms such as numbness and tingling can distract Successful management of cognitive symptoms and discourage either partner. Impaired genital includes creating a stimuli-saturated, minimally- sensations can diminish pleasure, while heightened distracting environment. Partners can share what sensitivity may make even the lightest touch will and will not be seen as exciting and what unbearable. What feels good at one time may be promotes passion and interest. excruciatingly painful on another occasion. Frankdiscussion of needs and limitations can avoid problems, Many symptoms of MS are invisible while others are and simple solutions as well as medications can be painfully obvious. All can impact on quality of life used to enhance pleasure. Something as easy as a and sense of well-being. While life changes affect bag of frozen peas gently rubbed on a woman's everyone, changes from MS can directly and perineum (genital area) can increase sensitivity and indirectly affect sexuality. Successful management pleasure and can be used as foreplay. Special oils are requires creativity, communication, patience and available which encourage touch and also increase resource management so that a person is able to pleasure when sensation is impaired. Vibrators can beused alone or with a partner.
MS symptoms can indirectly affect the sexual
response. Devices used to compensate for loss of
function can also damage confidence and self-
image. They may be seen as less than sexy. Canes,
wheelchairs, braces and walkers are often identified
with being "sick" or "old". Spontaneity can be a
problem if great effort has to be made to get
around. Asking for help is often difficult. It can be
challenging to think of oneself as sexually desirable
when confronting a body that is less than perfect,
and requires extra care to maintain. Adjusting
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Tertiary causes of
By Elizabeth McDonald, Medical Director, MS Society of Victoria, Australia,
Sexuality is an evolving, overall development of one's The diagnosis of MS, combined with the feelings of personal identity, well-being and self- unpredictable nature of relapses and the uncertainty esteem that involves both social and physical of disease progression, often occurs at a time when relationships. This is an individual lifelong process, dreams and plans for the future are being which is influenced significantly by personal formulated and relationships and careers perception, social conditioning, cultural and religious established. The diagnosis of MS may well cloud an individual's expectation of the future. This can resultin reactions of grief, anxiety and depression, lowering The impact of MS on sexuality
self-esteem and reducing confidence. Such feelings The onset of MS can alter a person's perception of may cause reduced sexual interest and withdrawal himself or herself as an individual, altering sexual from sexual activity.
development and expressions of sexuality, and it canhave a negative impact on sexual and intimate The fear of potential or actual disability can have a functioning. These are known as the tertiary sexual negative impact on the perception of body image.
problems of MS, derived from the resultant People with MS may feel less sexual or sexually psychological and social changes, as distinct from attractive. This is particularly evident in cultures the direct neurological dysfunction (primary sexual where desirability is associated with beauty, fitness problems) and the symptoms of MS (secondary and health. Sexual feelings and sexual activity are sexual problems).
not just for those who are young and able-bodied,yet this is the message continually transmitted by the Whilst MS is not a disease of the whole person, it can overwhelm and challenge the perception of "self" withnegative outcomes in relation to sexuality and sexual Increasing disability can bring with it changes in functioning. People with MS can find it difficult to see domestic routines, reduction or cessation of themselves as being "sexual", having sexual thoughts, employment and reduced social interaction. This desires and needs whilst at the same time identifying can be very distressing for those who have seen with the role of a person with a chronic illness. their primary role as the wage earner or thehomemaker, for example. Disability can also lead Individuals see themselves as complete persons in to dependency on others for personal care. If terms of their roles within families, friendship circles, the partner provides this care it can be very sporting clubs, activities and occupations. Any difficult to separate the role of carer from that of feelings of loss of control over events or unplanned intimate lover. Visiting carers, nursing and changes because of MS can affect one's confid- domestic services intruding into the home can ence and self-esteem and alter the dynamics of leave people with MS feeling exposed in all relationships, especially close and intimate ones. areas of their life, with little private time.
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
DRUGS COMMONLY USED IN MS
THAT AFFECT SEXUAL FUNCTIONING
Although changes in sexual desire, performance and satisfaction often occur as a result of
MS, they may also be a consequence of some medications. (Currently, the vast majority of
the side-effects listed below are noted by manufacturers to be "infrequent" or "rare".)
Drug effect on sexual function
• Decreased libido • Uncontrollable laughing or crying • Delayed or absent ejaculation • Inability to achieve orgasm (known as • Persisting, painful erection of the penis occurring without sexual stimulation (known as Anyone experiencing this should seek medical help immediately • Menstrual irregularities • Secretion of breast milk (known as hyperprolactinaemia or • Decreased libido • Delayed or absent ejaculation • Decreased libido • Inability to achieve orgasm • Menstrual irregularities • Enlarged or painful breasts • Irritation of the vaginal lining (vaginitis) • Inflammation of the head of the penis and • Secretion of breast milk • Decreased libido • Delayed or absent ejaculation • Inability to achieve orgasm • Secretion of breast milk • Decreased libido • Delayed or absent ejaculation • Inability to achieve orgasm MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Dealing with the impact of MS and symptoms can relating to problems of sexuality from health leave one neglecting the emotional and professionals. Whilst bringing up the topic can be psychological aspects of life in general. Simply difficult and embarrassing for people with MS, this attending to the physical needs of life's daily can also be so for some doctors and health activities can leave little time or energy for emotional professionals. It is important to find an MS contemplation and intimate relationships. This is healthcare provider with whom one feels particularly evident if fatigue is experienced as a comfortable, or seek a referral to someone symptom of the MS. specialising in this area. Going together, and withpre-written questions, can be helpful and provide It is important to remember that people with MS the focus for initial consultation.
are not isolated and living in a vacuum; theirworries and concerns affect others. Conflict can For health professionals the key to managing become apparent in established relationships if tertiary sexual problems in MS is firstly to identify these factors are not recognised and addressed what issues are having a negative impact on the with ongoing and honest communication. Not well-being and sexuality of the individual. This uncommonly, resulting misunderstanding, includes identification of primary and secondary resentment and feelings of rejection by the partner sexual problems, as well as the psychosocial occur as they see MS becoming the dominant factors and their complex interaction. Of prime importance is to recognise the person with MS asa whole person in the context of lifestyle, values, Management of tertiary sexual problems
roles, desires and relationships. Management People with MS who experience problems with depends on frank and open communication about sexuality need to allow themselves time to assess sexual issues. Treatment of any underlying their overall situation and to feel confident about depression and anxiety may require medication communicating their difficulties to those close to and psychological counselling and the provision of them. Whilst this is not always easy, literature on MS ongoing monitoring and support. and sexuality can provide useful information andhelp transcend feelings of isolation and uniqueness.
Counselling can help individuals to explore feelings There is also information on treatments and sexual and facilitate discussion in a respectful and aids that are available. Such information can be professional way. Negative emotions such as guilt, useful for partners to read and discuss together.
anger and resentment can be identified, seen in Deciding on a time and a peaceful setting to talk context, and worked through, in a non-judgemental about problems of sexuality helps to create an environment. Topics perhaps seen as too atmosphere of mutual commitment. It is important to embarrassing to discuss alone, can be discussed in be gentle and express feelings without blame or an open and supportive atmosphere. Strategies for accusation. People with MS and their partners improving the situation, or adopting new ways of should explore the areas of concern slowly, listen to considering and developing sexuality, can be each other carefully, as frequently misunderstandings and resentment are the result ofpoor or no communication, and respect each other's Sexuality is an important aspect of human life opinions. It is important to remember that sexuality is and must not be neglected when considering not just about physical intercourse. Sexual pleasure the impact of MS on an individual. Increasing can be gained, and given, by creating special times, awareness and acknowledgement of the places and rituals. This takes time, effort and effects of MS on sexuality have greatly improved the management and treatmentoptions available for people with MS It may also be of benefit to seek further help experiencing difficulties in this area.
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
TALKING ABOUT INTIMACY AND SEXUALITY IN THE HEALTHCARE SETTING
Sexual dysfunction often accompanies MS and FOR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS
may significantly affect the intimate relationships • Silence on the subject of sexual problems does and quality of life of people with MS and their not mean that they do not exist.
• Set the example of how intimacy and sexuality should be discussed: openly and without Discussion of intimacy and sexuality is very important but can be difficult for both people with • If you are not comfortable discussing this topic, it MS and healthcare professionals. Often they avoid is important to seek assistance in order to feel bringing up the subject of sexuality. This may be due to personal discomfort, lack of professional • Make questions about intimacy and sexuality part training in the area, or a fear of being overly of every interview since symptoms and problems intrusive. On the other hand, intimacy and sexuality may change. The individual may become more are difficult subjects for the person with MS as well.
comfortable to discuss them over time.
This may be because one is unaware that the • Often providing basic MS information that relates problem could be related to the disease, to sexuality can be helpful. For example: that embarrassment, fear of being judged or due to sexual problems are common in MS, part of the cultural barriers. disease symptoms, can occur together withurinary problems, etc.
Below are key issues to bear in mind, in order to • Obtain written material to offer to people with MS discuss this important topic effectively while and their partners.
minimising feelings of anxiety and embarrassment • Become familiar with the referral process for as much as possible.
people with MS needing information on sexuality,even though it may not be part of your regular FOR PEOPLE WITH MS
• An unsatisfactory intimate and sexual life does not have to be part of having MS.
• There are no rules for whose "job" it is to discuss sexual problems, so talk to the healthcareprofessional with whom you feel mostcomfortable.
• You may be experiencing a problem for which there is a solution.
• Do not wait until you reach a crisis to discuss • Open communication with your partner is vital.
• Once the discussion has been initiated, write down questions between visits so as not to forget "In education courses for nurses newly working with people with MS, role-playing provides the • Keep an updated list of medications to review opportunity for them to develop a personal during each visit, since a number of medications approach to discussing sexuality and intimacy can negatively influence sexual functioning.
and helps them to become more comfortable • Ask your healthcare provider for written material with the topic." Roberta Litta, Dir. Professional that you can read on your own and discuss later, if Education, Italian MS Society MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
WHERE TO LOOK FOR ADVICE AND REFERRALS
• Health professionals
• Family planning centres
A number of discreet catalogue services are available • Disability information advisors
that sell sexually oriented materials and promise • Community gay rights organizations
anonymity. Their products may be helpful to both • Newsletters – for example ABLED! (Active
disabled and non-disabled people. Some include: Beautiful Loving Exquisite Disabled Woman).
Special Edition Catalog for Disabled People. A Quarterly newsletter. Focuses on body image, catalogue of sexual aids, books, resources, and sexuality, family concerns, and other issues relevant information. $4.00 each. Xandria Collection, P.O.
to women living with disabilities. To subscribe, send Box 31039, San Francisco, CA 94131. Tel: 800- a donation ($10.00/year suggested) to ABLED Publications, 12211 Fondren, Suite 703, Houston, Good Vibrations provides a mail-order and TX 77035. Tel: 713-726-1132. Fax: 713-726- Internet catalogue of sexual aids, books and 8006. Web site: http://abledwomen.org. videos. Good Vibrations, 938 Howard Street,Suite 101, San Francisco, CA 94103. Tel: 800- • Books
Sexuality and Multiple Sclerosis by MichaelBarrett. MS Society of Canada, 1991 (available • Websites
in different languages).
The Sexual Health Network's web page has Enabling Romance: A Guide to Love, Sex, and information on sexuality for those with disabilities Relationships for People with Disabilities by and illnesses. It also provides links to other Ken Kroll and Erica Levy Klein, No Limits resources and offers live broadcasts. It has an archive of mainly educational books and videos The Joy of Solo Sex by Dr Harold Litten, Factor Press, Paperback, 1996. The Ann Summers web page has a catalogue of Sex for One: The Joy of Self Loving by Betty adult sex aids, books and videos Dodson, Three Rivers Press, 1996. www.annsummers.comThe youtopia web page has a catalogue of adult • Research help
sex aids, books, DVDs, clothing and accessories Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) provides a bibliography of The Sinclair Intimacy Institute has a catalogue of print and audiovisual materials related to sexuality adult sex education videos and DVDs and disability for $3.00 Write: SIECUS, 130 West 42nd Street, Suite 350, New York, NY 10036. Tel:212-819-9770. The bibliography is also available • Other resources
free on the Web at www.siecus.org. The Multiple Sclerosis Intimacy and SexualityQuestionnaire-19 is a 19-item self-report • Journals
instrument that measures primary, secondary, Sexuality and Disability is a journal that and tertiary sexual dysfunction in MS. It is used publishes scholarly articles on rehabilitation, to assess these aspects of sexuality, and can be disability, and sexuality. It also publishes utilized to educate healthcare providers about guidelines for professional clinical practice, case which aspects of sexuality require attention.
studies, and information for consumers. Kluwer Many MS societies have advisors, toll-free lines, Academic/Human Sciences Press, Inc., 233 publications and groups for specific sexual Spring Street, New York, N.Y. 10013-1578 USA.
orientations (for example GLAMS in the UK and LeHoMS in Norway).
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Your questions answered
Readers of MS in focus pose questions to the Editor, Michele Messmer Uccelli.
Q. Excessive oral secretions (saliva) make
is. This means that the opportunities to
kissing unpleasant and unromantic for
spend intimate time together are very
both. Kissing is a cornerstone to intimacy
irregular and almost non-existent. I have
and sexual activity. I find this a real
always initiated sex and I'm sure that my
problem. While excessive saliva may not
husband feels that this should still be the
be a major issue itself, it adversely affects
case. I would like to share so much more,
intimacy and sexual activity. I would love
such as touching, talking and sharing.
to find a solution to this problem. Regards,
How can I let him know that I'm not just a
"medical problem", and let him see me as
a person who still needs a little titillation
A. Increased salivary flow, also known as
sialorrhea or ptyalism, has not been reported as a Thanks, BA, Australia
symptom of MS. When excessive salivation isseen, it is usually related to swallowing difficulty, A. It is important to separate the MS from the
causing some pooling of saliva in the mouth.
rest of the person. It sounds as if you already Some medications can induce sialorrhea, so you know this though. It is also important that the may want to discuss any medications you are other person is aware of your feelings. This is taking with your physician to understand if one of only accomplished through honest discussion.
them may be causing you to produce excessive MS may require couples to revise their usual saliva. It may also be a problem related to ways of approaching sex and intimacy (in your another medical condition. Having MS does not, particular case you may not always be the unfortunately, protect people from other "initiator"). It is also important to agree, as a illnesses. For this reason, it is important to couple, that intimacy is not about intercourse consult your primary care physician regarding alone, but, as you mentioned, touching, talking Q. I have heard that Viagra can help
What might happen in a couple is that one women with sexual problems. Is it true?
member believes that, for the other person, Thank you, A.
intercourse is the ultimate goal of intimacy. Butwhen it is discovered that this isn't the case, A. Sildenafil (ViagraTM) is used in the treatment
both people feel less under pressure and they of primary sexual dysfunction in men, particularly are freer to talk about other ways of being erectile dysfunction. When studied in females with MS, sildenafil was not found to be useful,and so is not indicated for treating sexual Finally, there are a lot of strategies on how dysfunction in women.
fatigue can be managed so that it does notinterfere with sexual expression. See Issue 1 of Q. I am tired nearly all the time, but when
MS in Focus (January 2003) on Fatigue for I'm feeling less tired, my husband usually
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Rolande Cutner is a successful, international lawyer in Paris and New York, a very
active member of the board of the French MS society "Ligue Francaise Contre la Sclerose en Plaques", and the French representative on the People with MS International Committee. Rolande also has primary progressive MS.
When were you diagnosed with MS?
In April 1992, with primary progressive MS, but the
first symptoms around 1986.
Were you in a relationship/married at that
time with children etc?
I did not have children. I was divorced and dating a lot.
Do you think that MS influences your
relationship with (potential) partners?
Absolutely, yes. Who wants to be stuck with a woman
who might become paralysed down the road?
Do you feel that your self-image or self-
esteem, as a woman/partner/sexual being
has changed due to MS?
Yes. During the period when I did not know what
was wrong with me and after being diagnosed, I
tried, unsuccessfully, to hide my condition. My self-
image and my self-esteem as a woman were
damaged as long as I tried to hide the diagnosis.
When I accepted the fact that I had MS, and when I
decided that I had to fight MS, I felt better and that
fact immediately improved my relationship with
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Do you feel that others (e.g. partner,
healthcare professionals) see you
differently in terms of your role as a
woman, partner and sexual being,
because you have MS?
With a diagnosis of MS, people do not see youas a woman anymore, a woman who could goto bed, make love, and participate in sexualactivity. It is your responsibility to show othersthat you are still a woman and still a humanbeing with sexual desire, who wants toparticipate in sexual activity. You must takecharge of your sexual life – be a fun and sexywoman – even with MS, and perhaps evenmore so than before.
In your opinion/experience, do you feel
The Norwegian MS Society has a number of that people with MS may have limited
members who are gay men and lesbians. Via an opportunities to express themselves
article in "MS matters", Issue 47, 2003, the Society sexually or to participate in relationships?
learned that the MS Society of Great Britain andNorthern Ireland had created a support group for gay People with MS do not have to have limited and lesbians affected by MS: "GLAMS". We thought opportunities to participate in relationships. If you this could be an interesting idea for our organisation are caring, loving and giving, as well as a in Norway. The idea was presented to the Board of beautiful person, you can connect. It's important the Norwegian MS Society, and received a very to keep in mind that MS is not an excuse to sit positive response. The first challenge was to find around in flannel pyjamas, hair rollers and no people interested in taking part in the support group.
make-up. The secret is taking control. In Since only a few people responded to an article in our searching out ways to attract a partner, you have Society's newsletter, we contacted a magazine for to change how you thought about yourself gay people in Norway and asked them to publish an before MS. You must reach out and try to article about our initiative, and in February 2004, a establish relationships. two-page article was published. The article featured awoman with MS, the Norwegian MS Society and the Have you made changes to your life-
aims of the new support group. This generated style/way of thinking in order to maintain
greater interest and we heard from more people who or enhance intimacy and sexuality since
wanted to participate. being diagnosed with MS?
The Norwegian MS Society arranged the first Yes, I made a lot of adjustments. I became meeting for the support group in April 2004. The unpretentious and generous and I am not afraid meeting was held in a restaurant, and six people of rejection anymore. And the level of what I am attended. Last year we organised four meetings and willing to give up for love is much greater. Now, I membership has increased to 12 (two men and ten would even sacrifice my fabulous job to be with women). Finding a name for the network was simple: the man I love if I were asked to. I think having LeHoMS (Le (lesbian) – Ho (homosexual) – MS).
MS encourages you to make extraordinary At the first meeting, we discussed why the creation of changes in your life.
the group was important. Some people outside the MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
MS Society of Norway:
Support group for
lesbians and gay men
with multiple sclerosis
By Turid Hesselberg, Social Worker, Norwegian MS Society
group could not understand why we wanted to create • Many people face the double stigma of being
it. Although the acceptance of homosexuality has disabled and gay or lesbian. improved in recent years, there are still a number ofsceptics. Since 1993, gay men and lesbians have • Many gay men and lesbians with MS and other
been able to formalise their relationships legally in impairments experience loneliness and social Norway, but it is evident that some people are afraid of diversity and may have irrational feelings.
Nevertheless, the group grew in strength and • Negative attitudes of health professionals create
An article published in Norway in 2001 about Members of LeHoMS agree that it is positive to disabled and gay men and lesbians brought up share these joint concerns. It is not necessary to challenges for LeHoMS. It motivated the members of talk about being gay, since this is one of the criteria LeHoMS to formulate a list of arguments to support for participation. This gives members the the importance of a network that meets the diverse opportunity to talk about MS and life without needs of gay men and lesbians with MS. They are sexuality as a predominating theme. The group has a number of initiatives in the • Physical impairment and fatigue make it difficult for
planning phase, including a brochure and seminars.
people with MS to go to public meeting places such The hope is to plan a meeting with the GLAMS as bars, clubs and restaurants. group in England in the future so that we cancreate an international exchange of experience • Often, typical meeting places are inaccessible for
people using wheelchairs.
LeHoMS would be interested in hearing from • Access limitations make it difficult to initiate and
groups in other countries, or from individuals who maintain friendships and intimate relationships.
are interested in starting a group in their owncountry. Contact Turid Hesselberg, tel +47 2296 • Negative feelings about one's own body image are
3586 Wednesdays and Fridays, or by email: a barrier to meeting new people.
MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Results of the MSIF online
survey on relationships,
Responses to an online survey on the MSIF website (www.msif.org)
have revealed what some of our online readers think about sexuality
and MS. Three hundred and sixty-six people with MS responded, of
which 87 per cent currently have a sexual partner.
This is what we learned:
The results of the study confirm that for peoplewith MS, disease-related issues, such as Impact of MS on the relationship
symptoms, have a relevant impact on relationships.
The results show that MS, or specific issues related Intimate problems are common and open to MS, have a significant influence on relationships.
communication is crucial to addressing sexuality The box provides details on these MS-related and intimacy concerns, although not many people issues. Fatigue, loss of libido and altered seek professional help or benefit from treatment sensations were the most commonly reported for specific problems.
factors influencing relationships. MS-related issues influencing relationships
Changes in lifestyle/way of thinking
Over half of the respondents have made changes to their lifestyle or their way of thinking to maintain Altered sensations or enhance intimacy and sexuality. The study Feeling less confident confirms that sexual difficulties are crucial in determining the way a person feels about him or Feeling less attractive herself as a man or woman, with almost two-thirds Sensory disturbances of respondents reporting that sexual issues have Erectile problems an impact on their view of themselves.
Decreased vaginal Too many other problems Two-thirds of respondents experienced difficulty in to think about sex communicating with others (either a partner, Bladder or bowel problems healthcare professionals or others) on MS-related Feeling socially isolated sexual difficulties. Poor concentration Role changes/conflicts The survey revealed that fewer than a third of the Managing catheters respondents have benefited from counselling, Cultural values create advice and therapy, and almost two-thirds have had a negative experience with treatment for specific MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Quality of Life
Principles By Paul Rompani, MSIF
The Principles to Promote the Quality of Life ofPeople with Multiple Sclerosis (Quality of LifePrinciples) is a new advocacy tool developed tohelp people affected by MS (eg MS societiesand organisations). The aim of the Principles isto improve the quality of life (QOL) of peoplewith MS.
The Principles are evidence-based internationalstandards that focus on the common issues thataffect the QOL of people with MS, for instancethe distress and disability caused by the manysymptoms of the disease, the inability in somecases to live at home, the loss of paidemployment, the loss of mobility, and the lack ofco-ordination between medical and social care.
As a result, they are not linked to particulartypes or stages of MS. The Principles are designed to be used by anyindividual, group or organisation involved inmaking decisions that will affect the QOL ofpeople with MS. They will guide thedevelopment and evaluation of existing andproposed services and programmes, irrespectiveof the provider, and will help to advocate forimprovements. Users include internationalorganisations, governments, non-profit and for-profit health, social care and continuing care The development of the Principles was based on service providers, employers, national MS a series of interviews, a literature review, the societies, researchers, businesses and, most clinical, programmatic, and research experience importantly, people affected by MS. of the authors, and review by a Work Group anda technical Oversight Group organised by MSIF.
MSIF is preparing three practical guides The interviews were conducted with a range of describing how the Principles can support MS international MS and QOL experts, MS clinical Society programme planning, sharing best providers and people with MS, many of whom practice and influencing public policy.
were from the UK. MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
Book review: In sickness and in health:
convincing and complete. While there is no Sex, love and chronic illness
"professional" opinion in the book, the diversity of By Lucille Carlton the contributions from real experience makes this Review by Cristina Gómez Ortiz, omission irrelevant. AEDEM, Spain The book is focused on people with a chronic illness, single or living in a couple. I would say that certain chapters of the book are pertinent for the general public, since sexuality and chronic illness inspire creativity are topics that often arouse fear, and a better understanding of people's experiences can benefit everyone. I think it is one of the best books that has been written for people with MS because it speaks openly about a topic that creates anxiety and apprehension for many, but chronic illness. It which is relevant to all people living with a chronic the female pointof view since the The writer's style is simple and clear, which makes it very easy to read. The book had an important influence on me and I am sure that it could be useful to others.
disease patient. Lucille Carlton was married foralmost 50 years and had a very good marriage, Publisher: Dell, 1997, ISBN: 0440508053, maintaining sexual intimacy through two chronic Price US$9.50 illnesses. Her husband cared for her when shewas debilitated for many years by a rare skin Website review: The Sexual Health
disease, and she cared for him through 16 years of Parkinson's disease. The information in the Review by Tim Miller, Italy book is, therefore, applicable to many peopledealing with various chronic illnesses.
The Sexual Health Network website is anAmerican commercial website covering a broad The author gives examples of daily situations andfeelings that people affected by chronic illnessmay experience in relation to intimacy andsexuality. She also talks about her ownexperiences in her marriage, as well as theexperience she gained from working as aspeaker and a columnist for the NationalParkinson Foundation. The ideas in this book are supplemented by theopinions and experiences of people with chronicdisease and their partners, which help to make it MS in focus Issue 6 • 2005
range of illnesses and in the context of sexuality.
As a point of access it can be helpful to thoseinterested in aspects of MS and sexuality, withsome pages specifically tailored to MS. The site's mission-statement clearly describes itsscope and purpose. It is an English-languagewebsite, access is free, no special software isrequired to view the information, and navigation isstraightforward, although it would be helped bythe inclusion of a site map. Information on thesite's experts and their backgrounds are included,as well their photographs. Contributions to thesite are fairly recent, although the frequency ofupdates is not clear. It is intended as a starting issues are covered with up-to-date information, point from which to move on to counsellors and and the website is useful both for people with MS therapists and to other sites through web links, and specialists. banners and pop-ups (see review below).
The audio/video sections are informative and can As a gateway to further information it contains improve knowledge on management in clinical links through to the Healthology website from care for physicians, and also for other MS where audio and video clips can be downloaded, professionals. Some of the interactive options as well as related texts.
include courses that present various topics. Thisis a useful approach to get a quick readout about It can be useful and an immediately available the state-of-the art on different MS issues. The point of information. The validity of the help contributions are from opinion-leaders in the MS available and the links contained are a matter for field, whose knowledge and expertise is the visitor to judge, as with all Internet resources.
internationally acknowledged, lending a high level It is a valuable starting point. of authority to the site content. While the site is very interactive, it is not possibleto print some of the sections. A caveat regardingthis site is that many sections need an audio Website review: Healthology
system support programme (and audio speakers) Review by Claudio Solaro, MD, Department of that may not be easily accessible to all users.
Neurology, Micone Hospital, Genoa, Italy Moreover, the website is based on video sectionsthat are not manageable in a simple way by This website is not MS-specific, although there is an MS section. It also covers neurologicaldiseases and symptoms such as headache and Overall the site is user-friendly and very dementia and non-neurological diseases such as informative. I would recommend it to healthcare tumours. Access to all parts of the site is free-of- professionals and anyone interested in learning more about MS and its treatment andmanagement. With regard to the MS section, the site design isuser-friendly and is easy to navigate, both within the main sections and between links. Many MS MS in focus
+44 (0)207 620 1911 +44(0)207 620 1922 MSIF is a non-profit charitableorganization 501(c)(3) IRC chartered inthe State of Delaware, USA, in 1967. UKregistered charity 1105321.
The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation
produces MS in focus twice a year. With an
international cross-cultural board, easily
accessible language and free subscription,
MS in focus is available to all those affected
by MS worldwide. To subscribe, log on to
With many thanks
MSIF would like to thank Serono for their
unrestricted grant which made the production of
MS in focus possible
A new chapter has been added to • patient appropriateness for and readiness to initiate
the International MS Nurse Care Plan – a comprehensive and • treatment efficacy
practical guide to the specialised • monitoring and management of possible side effects
field of MS nursing.
• benefit-to-risk profile
• the patient's physical, cognitive, and psychosocial status
A group of world-renowned MSnurses convened in October 2004 Since nurses are the main healthcare professionals to to finalise it and ensure that it was have day-to-day contact with patients, they play a pivotal developed in accordance with role in identifying and overcoming problems and, thereby, continuing medical education (CME) help ensure optimal treatment outcomes. The new regulations and free of commercial bias. chapter outlines an evidence-based nursing approachthat is designed to guide and assist nurses through this This new chapter is focused on Treatment Optimisation.
demanding and long-term process of treatment The introduction of the newer disease-modifying therapies have heralded a new era in the management ofrelapsing MS. However, ensuring optimal medical and Maria Grazia Calì
health outcomes for patients using these therapies Serono Symposia International depends on various factors, including:
The effect of subclinical ketosis in early lactation on reproductive performance of postpartum dairy cows
J. Dairy Sci. 90:2788–2796doi:10.3168/jds.2006-560© American Dairy Science Association, 2007. The Effect of Subclinical Ketosis in Early Lactation on ReproductivePerformance of Postpartum Dairy Cows R. B. Walsh,*1 J. S. Walton,† D. F. Kelton,* S. J. LeBlanc,* K. E. Leslie,* and T. F. Dufﬁeld**Department of Population Medicine, and†Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1
Managing pharmaceutical regulation in Germany: overview and economic assessment Jonas Schreyögg, Klaus-Dirk Henke, Reinhard Busse Abstract Rising costs in pharmaceutical expenditure have become a major concern for policy makers in Germany over the last years. Therefore the pharmaceutical market in Germany has been increasingly targeted by different kinds of regulations, focussing