Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 101–111 | Cite as

Sexual Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis

  • Fary KhanEmail author
  • Julie F. Pallant
  • Louisa Ng
  • Michael Whishaw
Original Paper


To describe sexual dysfunction (SD) in persons with MS, its impact on quality of life and relationship with bladder function. Persons with definite MS (n = 73) from a tertiary hospital database, interviewed using standardized measures. For disability: Neurological Disability Scale (NDS), American Urological Association Index, Urogenital Distress Inventory (UDI6), Incontinence Impact Questionnaire (IIQ7) and Personal Experiences Questionnaire (PEQ); participation: Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale (MSIS). Mean age 50 years, 73% female, 52% progressive MS and 60% with detrusor overactivity. Fifty-one (72%) had PEQ scores indicating SD. Women reported greater SD than men (p = .013). SD included: lack of enjoyment of sexual activity (32%), failure of arousal (30%) and anorgasmia (47%). Patients who reported MS impacted ‘a great deal ‘on their sex lives, compared with those who did not, showed significant differences on PEQ Sexual Frequency (p = .01), IIQ7 (p = .03), UDI6 (p = .04) and both MSIS subscales (Physical p = .04; Psychological p = .03). The PEQ Sexual Frequency scale significantly correlated with NDS (rho = −.30), QoL Bladder score (rho = −.35) and MSIS Physical subscale (rho = −.30). No association was found between SD and age, years since diagnosis, stage or severity of MS. SD is complex and often overlooked in clinical care. Improved management options for SD may improve QoL in these persons.


Multiple sclerosis Bladder Sexual dysfunction Participation Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale Neurological Disability Scale 



We thank all persons with MS who participated in this study. We are also grateful to L Oscari for conducting the interviews.

Conflict of Interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fary Khan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Julie F. Pallant
    • 4
  • Louisa Ng
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michael Whishaw
    • 3
  1. 1.Royal Melbourne HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Dentistry & Health SciencesUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Royal Melbourne HospitalParkville, MelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Rural Health Academic CentreUniversity of MelbourneSheppartonAustralia

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