Impact of Illness on Couples Relationships

Sex is a complex process that largely depends on the endocrine, vascular, and neurologic systems and is affected by a number of psychosocial factors. Sexual functioning can also be affected by illnesses and their treatments. Many people with illnesses become sexually inactive or find themselves disinterested in sex because of fatigue, depression, anxiety, stress, and pain that come with it.

Illnesses particularly become a major problem for couples since they affect their sexual and other intimate relations. This article explores ways in which you and your partner can deal with some health issues (depression, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis) to optimize your sex life.


Depression can greatly affect a couple’s sex life. Often, depressed people lose interest in sex. Other common sexual problems include inability to get sexually aroused, poor sexual performance, inability to gain pleasure, and lack of energy. Premature ejaculation, failure to get or keep an erection, and failure to reach orgasm or ejaculate are also common to people with depression.

You can solve the sexual problems brought about by depression by taking antidepressants. As the depression lifts little by little, your libido should return. But some medications may worsen your sexual problems or lead to new ones. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should stop taking antidepressants. You need to talk to your doctor to know whether your condition is caused by depression or by the medication. It may help to change the dosage, take an extra medicine, or take a different antidepressant with the advise of your doctor.


Arthritis can negatively affect a relationship as it poses challenges in achieving sexual satisfaction. In addition to lessening your interest in sex, arthritis may change the way you feel and think about yourself, especially nowadays when everyone else is having (or claiming to have) mind-exploding sex. In order to optimize your sex life, you must learn to come to terms with your condition. Blaming everything on your arthritis will complicate things further.

Confront the problem head on and talk to your partner about your fears and feelings about your sexual relationship. Experiment or learn to accept suggestions, but don’t try anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or anything you feel unacceptable. Don’t feel ashamed of your condition. Consult with your doctor for painkillers that may help you deal with your arthritis.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune condition, is a disease that can greatly affect a couple’s sex life. It can lower self-esteem and make one feel sexually undesirable. General sexual symptoms of MS include painfully heightened or reduced sensation, penis erection problems, vaginal dryness, inability to reach orgasm, and loss of interest in sex. MS also prevents partners from experimenting sexual positions because of muscle spasms. Other symptoms of MS are bladder or bowel incontinence and overall fatigue and weakness.

But couples can still have an incredible fireworks sex. Men who have MS can take Viagra. There are also the Muse system, implants, and inflatable devices. For women, vaginal dryness can be addressed by a good lubrication. Couples can also use alternative techniques of sexual arousal such as dildos and vibrators, which can overcome impaired sensation or slow arousal. Stimulate your partner’s mind (a favorite sexual organ for many) by lighting some scented candles, reading erotic novels, or watching adult movies together.


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