Meghan Beier , Neuropsychologist
3 May 2023 | ~3:05 Engagement Time
Living with multiple sclerosis presents a unique challenge for women. What are the symptoms of ms in a woman? How will ms affect me sexually? Can I get pregnant with MS? These are all questions that may be running through your mind.
Until relatively recently, most of the medical and rehabilitation research focused on either males exclusively or mixed populations without examining gender differences. As an example, prior to 1990, there was only one publication that examined the unique demographics of women with functional or cognitive challenges.
When the unique challenges experienced by women with chronic medical conditions were explored, it was found – on a population level – that women have increased difficulty accessing basic medical care, surgical procedures, eyeglasses, dental care, prescriptions, and mental health interventions. These types of findings prompted the medical world to take notice. New lines of research produced a better understanding of the prevalence of MS among women and the unique considerations needed for assessment and treatment in this gender.
Previously it was thought that MS affected females to males 2:1. We now know the ratio is much higher at 4:1. This disease often strikes young adults from the ages of 15-45 years; for women – childbearing years. Furthermore, the same disease process that impacts walking, balance, sensory changes, vision, and cognition, also has a unique impact on the sexual health of women.
In this article, you will learn a few things we know about health conditions that uniquely impact women with MS.
Understanding the unique healthcare challenges faced by women with MS has grown exponentially. However, one of the remaining difficulties is discomfort and stigma around sexual and reproductive health. Let’s reduce this difficulty by: increasing your awareness of these conditions, helping you know what questions to ask, and learning to effectively communicate with your medical provider.