Sexual Health and Parkinson's
Will Parkinsonís disease affect my sex life?
Unfortunately, sexual dysfunction is common in Parkinsonís patients, usually due to a combination of factors including the disease process itself, side effects of medications and psychological issues.
The most common sexual problem for men with Parkinsonís disease is achieving and maintaining an erection, followed by impaired sexual arousal, drive and orgasm. Medications can help improve erectile function. Talk to your doctor to see if they are suitable for you.
Less is known about the impact of Parkinsonís disease on women, but many women with Parkinsonís disease experience a decline in sexual desire and a reduced ability to experience orgasm during sex. Sex also can be uncomfortable for women because of a lack of lubrication, particularly for those who have experienced menopause.
For both sexes, some Parkinsonís disease medications, particularly the dopamine agonists, are associated with a high prevalence of sexual dysfunction, particularly hypersexuality. If sexual obsession becomes an issue, a change in meds may be warranted.
Depression itself can be a cause of impotence, and some antidepressants commonly prescribed for Parkinsonís patients are known to inhibit sexual feeling. However, newer antidepressants are improving in this regard. As with any other side effect, you must decide for yourself (in consultation with your physician) what you are able to tolerate in exchange for the benefits of the medication.
There are also some practical barriers to sexual activity. Parkinsonís disease can make it difficult to move and turn in bed. Some possible solutions include using satin sheets, wearing silky pajamas or a nightgown, or abandoning the bed altogether. And remember: It always helps to keep your sense of humor!
Does having Parkinsonís disease or taking medication for my symptoms make it unwise for me to have a baby?
Many women with Parkinsonís disease have successfully carried healthy babies to term. However, there has yet to be a thorough study of the effects of Parkinsonís disease medications on the mother or child and there is no universal consensus on this relatively uncommon situation. You should talk to your doctor about taking Parkinsonís disease medications during a pregnancy as you would about any substance. You may be referred to a geneticist, a specialist who is knowledgeable about the effect of environmental exposures, including medications, on the pregnancy and fetus.
If your concern is preventing pregnancy, talk to your doctor about contraceptive options other than birth control pills. It is unclear at this time whether taking Parkinsonís disease medications compromises the pill's efficacy.
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