The experience of sexuality for individuals living with multiple sclerosis.

Little is known of the experience of sexuality among people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). This Roy Adaptation Model-based study focused on identifying the experiences of sexuality reported by individuals living with MS. A qualitative, naturalistic case study method was employed. Five women and three men diagnosed with MS were interviewed by telephone three times over a period of 1 year. The telephone interview guide consisted of a series of structured questions. Analysis of the telephone interview transcripts revealed three themes. The theme, “How I Feel About My Appearance”, reflected elements of the Roy model physiological, self-concept, role function and interdependence modes. The theme, “I Have Feelings About My Sexuality”, reflected the self-concept and interdependence modes, and the theme, “Sexuality For Me Has Both Negative and Positive Emotions”, reflected the self-concept and interdependence modes. The small sample size precludes generalization of the results to all individuals living with MS. Nurses and other health care providers need to recognize that sexuality is an important issue for individuals with MS. Researchers should continue to examine experiences of sexuality in a larger sample of individuals with MS and also should begin to examine the effects of nursing interventions, such as support groups and individual counselling, on feelings about sexuality in individuals with MS.