sex and disability with muscular dystrophy

Most types of muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions do not affect sexual function or desire. And while muscle weakness may make positioning and having sex more challenging, there are many aids that can help. Discussion with a partner and experimenting together is important. Keep in mind that not all sex has to be intercourse, and not all intercourse has to end in orgasm.

Disabled people have the same needs for sex and intimacy as anyone else.

Disabled people have the same needs for sex and intimacy as anyone else.


Sexual activity should be pleasurable for both partners. Do not feel forced into activities which do not feel right for you. Remember always to practice safe sex for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies.

Some young people with muscular dystrophy or related neuromuscular conditions may have heart and/or breathing issues which should be assessed and treated by a doctor, however these are unlikely to prevent you from enjoying a healthy sex life.

Sexual intercourse generally uses about as much energy as walking three miles an hour, and that can be a strain for people with weakened respiratory or cardiac muscles. Some positions require less energy than others, so do experiment. Many people find a lying position easier.

Remember that certain medications can cause side-effects, which might impact on your sex life. Your doctor will be able to advise you, so don’t suffer in silence! It may be possible to change your medication.

Eating a balanced diet, keeping fit and well rested are important as they will all help you to feel good about yourself. Finally, stress and depression can cause sexual and relationship difficulties, so if these are an issue for you, seek medical advice. Depression is an incredibly common problem but is usually treatable so don’t try to cope alone.

Medication can affect sexual function and desire. Loss of penile erection can be caused by a wide range of drugs, including those used for treating high blood pressure and other heart conditions (such as cardiomyopathy in muscular dystrophy). Many drugs can affect libido, including those used for treating psychiatric issues (which in themselves may also, of course, affect sexual function) and epilepsy. Everybody’s situation will be different so personal advice is essential. If you are concerned talk to your specialist and ask about the affect your medication may or may not have on your sex life.

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