Bladder and sexual function among women with multiple sclerosis.

OBJECTIVE: Genitourinary dysfunction is common in women with multiple sclerosis (MS), yet few studies have evaluated the association between bladder and sexual dysfunction in these women. The aim of this study was to determine factors, including demographic and bladder function, associated with sexual dysfunction in a sample of women with MS.

METHODS: One hundred and thirty-three women with MS completed questionnaires related to overall heath status, bladder function and sexual function. Response frequencies and percentages were calculated for questionnaire responses. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to determine predictors of sexual dysfunction.

RESULTS: Sixty-one per cent of the sample indicated that they had a problem with bladder control. Forty-seven per cent of respondents indicated that their neurological problems interfered with their sex life. Over 70% of the sample reported that they enjoyed, felt aroused and experienced orgasm during sexual activity. Not having a sexual partner and the indication of bothersome neurological problems were the best predictors of sexual dysfunction. Interestingly, patients bothered by their urge incontinence had higher levels of orgasm compared to women not bothered by urge incontinence.

CONCLUSIONS: Although over half of the women reported voiding symptoms, most still enjoyed, felt aroused and could experience orgasm. Neurological symptoms and lacking a sexual partner emerged as the best predictors of sexual dysfunction. Urge incontinence may not be a risk factor for an orgasm. Our findings elucidate the complex nature of sexual dysfunction in women with MS.