Bladder, Bowel and Sexual Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis
Although patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) are likely to have problems with bladder, bowel and sexual function, these problems have often been neglected in the past. Bladder dysfunction produces symptoms of urgency, frequency and urge incontinence (due to bladder overactivity and incomplete emptying), and is found in up to 75% of patients with MS. The mainstay of drug treatment for neurogenic bladder overactivity is anticholinergic medication, although intravesical treatments have also been proposed, such as the vanilloids and botulinum toxin, as well as sublingual cannibanoids. There has been much progress with pro-erectile agents in recent years, notably the use of sildenafil citrate, which has been shown to be particularly efficacious in these patients. Other agents include apomorphine hydrochloride and newer phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors; however, the efficacy of these drugs in patients with MS remains to be proven. Research in female sexual dysfunction is also progressing, although this aspect of patient well being has only recently been addressed; the reported development of a classification system for the condition is likely to help categorise future treatments. Unlike bladder and sexual dysfunction, there have been rather limited advances in the treatment of faecal incontinence and constipation specifically for patients with MS, despite a prevalence of up to 50%. This review highlights the strategies for these types dysfunction commonly seen in patients with MS, with report of recent pharmacological developments.