“Sex is like air; it is not important unless you are not getting any.”
It is a well-known fact that people with Parkinson’s suffer from sexual dysfunction for various reasons ranging from depression, fatigue, to autonomic dysfunction as well as due to frequent urinary infections. Sometimes other factors like the awkwardness that may arise due to physical impediments caused by incoordination, tremors, rigidity along with other motor & non -motor symptoms.
We also know that the issues relating to sexual function are as varied as any individual living with Parkinson’s. However, there are several patterns of dysfunction from low libido to complete lack of desire and everything in between that can impact not only the quality of life of the person living with the disease but also alter the dynamics of any romantic relationships. Keeping in mind that mental issues such as feelings of isolation and depression also play a role in human libido particularly in women. Now imagine that women with PD are said to have more negative symptoms (I.e. depression, anxiety); thus as a whole women with PD are more likely to experience anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure). On top of this, women independent of disease, experience a natural shift in their sexual desire due to hormonal fluctuations particularly as they enter menopause. Yet, as a doctor and patient I don’t recall ever having a conversation regarding issues in the bedroom. I do recall many discussion with men with PD regarding this problem albeit it usually occurred as an afterthought.
Especially considering that most of the issues causing decrease libido have a potential treatment, why are women still feeling they got the short end of the deal when it comes to feeling sexually fulfilled?
Although, how your sex life? Is not a typical question you will likely hear your doctor ask anytime soon you can still get the desired help by asking question first. The truth is that most doctors also feel ill equipped to discuss this subject themselves particularly in female patients.
So what can you do to find solutions to your problem?
First, know that there are treatable causes for this problem and you should therefore keep a diary of your symptoms in order to better address the problem – Be aware of the issues.
Second, you should ask questions as to treatments available and brooch the subject as you would any other symptom of PD- Voice your concerns.
Third, find a doctor with whom you are comfortable discussing issues and who is also capable of assessing and treating problems. (Personally, I have found a female gynecologist to be the best equipped for this job). Don’t suffer in silence– Find treatment.
Fourth, use that new found creativity PD has conferred on you to experiment and explore new things with your partner. (I.e. new positions, techniques, etc.)
You will find that by following these steps not only will you inject new life into your sexual relationships; but you will also build stronger bonds not just with your partner but also with your physician. After all, Trust and openness is a two way street.
All rights reserved by Maria De Leon MD