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Myasthenia Gravis and Sexual Health

Myasthenia gravis (MG) can affect every part of your life in very personal ways. One of the ways includes sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction impacts both men and women with MG and can decrease quality of life.

What is sexual dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction is any problem that prevents sexual satisfaction. It applies whether you are talking about a person alone or a couple. Different types of sexual dysfunction include:1

  • Lack of sexual desire or interest
  • Problems becoming physically aroused during sexual activity
  • Problems with orgasm
  • Pain with sex

In both sexes, a lack of desire might be the problem. In men, the problem might be having or keeping an erection or trouble with ejaculation. In women, the problem might be trouble reaching orgasm or vaginal dryness.1

Causes

The physical and mental issues of MG may contribute to sexual dysfunction. Some commonly used MG drugs are known to cause:2

  • Low testosterone levels in men
  • Decreased sexual desire in both sexes
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Depression in both sexes
  • Emotional changes

Myasthenia gravis drugs may also cause weight gain and hair loss, which can impact self-esteem. In addition to muscle weakness, MG can also cause fatigue and muscle pain, which may also lower sexual desire.3

Treatment

If you are having issues or challenges with sexual functioning, it can feel embarrassing to talk with your doctor – and that is okay. Doctors know that sexuality is a part of life, and just because you have MG does not mean you have to live without sex. There are probably options to help improve your sex life.

Talk with your doctor about whether any of your MG drugs could be the root of your sexual issues. You may be able to change doses or try a different drug. You may also need to treat other health conditions that are linked to sexual problems, such as depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, diabetes, or heart disease. Depending on your sexual issues, treatments may include:1

  • Hormone shots, creams, or pills
  • Penile implants or vacuum devices
  • Pills for erectile dysfunction
  • Sex therapy

If muscle weakness interferes with your sexual abilities, physical or occupational therapy can help improve strength or give you ideas for how to adapt to your new body.

Tips for a healthy sex life with MG

More research needs to be done on men’s and women’s experiences with MG and their sexual quality of life. Until science can reduce drug side effects and improve MG care overall, here are some tips that may help you improve your sex life:2

  • Plan ahead of time. Yes, spontaneity is fun, but planning an encounter makes sure sex is a priority.
  • Shift your mindset. Intercourse is not the only way to be intimate. Being skinny is not the only quality that makes you sexy in someone else’s eyes.
  • If you know that your muscle weakness is worst in the afternoons and evenings, try lovemaking in the mornings.
  • Talk openly with your partner about your struggles, both mental and physical. This helps them understand that you are not rejecting them.

Do you have any tips for maintaining a healthy sex life while living with myasthenia gravis? Share in the comments below.

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Written by: Jessica Johns Pool | Last reviewed: May 2021