This is a difficult post to write as I know a large number of the people who read this blog are friends and family. Still it would be remiss in a blog about living with myasthenia not to discuss how it affects sexual relationships and how having MG feels for a sexual being.
Let’s focus on the mechanics of sex first of all. Regardless of what your preferences are, the muscle weakness and fatigue associated with MG can affect performance in the bedroom. In any kind of repetitive motion, MG muscles can get tired, shaky and easily cramp. Sometimes it’s very clear from the start that you are not going to be able to keep up a certain position or motion. When it becomes more about trying to hold a pose than enjoying the moment that’s when you need to be assertive. Other times the weakness can come out of nowhere – there have been times when I’ve felt like my arms or legs would suddenly give way. While this can be part of having intense sex for anyone, it is the lack of control over your muscles that feels frightening.
Saying this, I have never had to say no to anything because of myasthenia. Knowing your body’s limits is important when it comes to sex, but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Once again, listening to your body is vital.
Communicating how you are feeling is vital for people with myasthenia when having sex. No matter if it is a one night thing, a casual set up or a long term relationship, respect yourself and your body enough to be open about how you are feeling. If you are struggling in a certain position, suggest something else. Certainly from my own experience, sex is much more rewarding if both parties are equally enjoying themselves. Don’t be a martyr – speak up about what is working for you and what isn’t.
While it can have less impact than more general physical symptoms, issues with vision caused by myasthenia can affect sex. For instance I often joke when suffering double vision that I’m going to bed with two women. My way of making light of the fact that I would have to close one eye to see which version of Elaine to pay attention to.
Emotional impact of MG on your sex life and drive
So here’s the difficult part – the emotional side of how MG affects you as a sexual being. I’m sure I’m not alone in this – I enjoy sex less when my symptoms are bad. If my eyes are looking bad, I hear a voice telling me not to look into my partner’s eyes as it might turn her off. When my voice is affected, I’m less likely to talk in bed with the fear that it will come out slurred or lisping (again putting her off). I’m worried that my chest scar is all she sees. In spite of the fact that I’ve had nothing but loving reassurance from my other half, I do struggle.
My confidence is dented, however it is much better now than it was when I first had symptoms. This is because I’m very lucky to have a partner who makes me feel sexy and I make an extra effort to make myself feel that way. How do I do this? I look after my body, I make an extra effort to ‘get in the mood’ and I try to shut down the voice that wants to ruin my sex life. I tell myself that I deserve whatever kind of sex I choose, within legal limits, and I fight the mood killing myasthenia woes.
If I was not with my partner it would definitely be more of a challenge to shut those voices down but I would keep fighting to do so. I firmly believe you shouldn’t let anyone else define how sexy you feel nor should you let myasthenia stop you having a healthy, happy sex life.