The emotional and physical connections between couples are essential towards a long-lasting relationship, and there is a more significant need for it when one or both of them have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is “widely considered an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system of an otherwise normal person is tricked into attacking healthy parts of the body, MS causes damage in many areas of the nervous system. This leads to symptoms that are often different for different people. These include things as seemingly diverse as fatigue, walking problems, depression, cognitive impairment, muscle tightness, or bladder problems,” says Lauren Krupp, M.D., and Robert Charlson, M.D.
The symptoms of MS can primarily affect the way people feel or how they connect towards their partners. It may also substantially influence how they regard previous and current activities that support their relationship. As such, couples can expect possible effects of MS on their current or future situations.
“New research now suggests that inflammation within the hippocampus — influenced by the immune system responses — may be the reason for the increased prevalence of depression among people with M.S.,” according to Rick Nauert PhD, and it’s very devastating to have a partner or spouse with depression and MS at the same time.
The Impact Of MS
An individual with MS will substantially change as the disease progresses. The changes will impact the relationship from mild to severe levels. Some symptoms of MS may strip them (not all) of sexual activity or undoubtedly lessens it from what it used to be. There is a possibility that couples with MS may need to pull off with cuddling, hugging, stroking, and kissing as these are the primary forms of intimate connection. However, there are various ways to keep the intimacy in the relationship alive. You can research for things that you can do and what you can’t during sexual intercourse. Ask healthcare professionals regarding how to deal with MS symptoms that get in the way of your sexual activities together. They will also give you advice about beneficial sexual health options as well.
A couple in a relationship will change over the years and will require adjustments to move on. However, individuals with MS tend to hold on to their mentality shift during the progression of the disease which may cause a severe personality change. Their partners may not recognize them anymore due to these character changes and that somehow leads to a breakup.
Individuals with MS will experience the symptoms of the disease without prior signs and will not be able to know how long these will last or how severe they would be. MS will put a massive burden on their partners which may influence them to give up the relationship. The diagnosis of MS and its symptoms may create new arguments due to the changes that MS can bring in their relationship, social lives, and responsibilities of a person. The couple’s plan for the future may drastically change or possibly halted.
Multiple sclerosis is a life-changing disease, but it should not keep you away from holding a positive outlook on life. It is also important not to drown in self-pity for it will significantly affect you and your partner. Lastly, never think that you are alone during your battle with this disease because there are thousands of people who can relate to your situation. Find the strength to address the issue so you can save your relationship from drying.
“I would strongly recommend that if you feel that your personality has changed, if you find yourself withdrawing and not able to complete tasks that you were once able to complete, you feel blue, helpless, hopeless, have lost interest in things that you once enjoyed, that you get scheduled for a psychological evaluation,” says Amy Sullivan, Psy.D.
A significant ratio of couples with MS will have their relationship compromised which may ultimately end up in separation. However, it is not an impossible feat to keep the connection with efforts. There is a greater need for understanding, patience, and a lot of planning coming from both individuals in the relationship.