Saying Yes to Sex After an MS Diagnosis: Part I
This article is one in a series about the positives of saying 'yes' to sex after a devastating MS diagnosis. My approach will continue to be explicit, frank, and heartfelt. I want to share on this level to show you the possibilities of what sexual intimacy can be like in the bodies we have now. Future articles will describe some recent sexual experiences and what I have discovered. First I want to provide some context behind saying yes to sex, and that will be the focus of this article.
COVID's impact on my sex life
For the past three months (April – July 2021) I have engaged in casual sex. I am a 63-year-old woman with RRMS, single, and unattached. It is hard to explain what started this journey. All I know is that in April my libido inexplicably kicked into high gear. I had been on a dating site called POF during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, corresponding and phone-chatting with several men during that year - something I had done off and on for years before COVID. Shortly after I became fully vaccinated, I began to meet men in person. One of them encouraged me to join a sex site to pursue a private fantasy I shared, and I did. Maybe it was the year-long lockdown that heightened my libido. Perhaps I grew weary of long periods of chastity between relationships. Whatever the reason, I started saying 'yes' to things I usually say 'no' to and began to explore a more adventuresome sex life.
Why it's okay to say 'yes' to what you want
In the article, We Can Enjoy Sex Even When We Have MS and IBS, I described my experiences with muscle cramping, neuropathic pain, and IBS flatulence during sex, and the things I did to manage them successfully so my partner and I could continue having fun. Here I want to talk about some insights. Experience has expanded my thinking tremendously. I have learned so many things during this foray into more adventurous sex. About myself and about men. And all the stigmas attached to this kind of activity. I quickly let go of shame and fear. I did so because I was ready, and I think the timing of this played an important role in giving myself permission to seek adventure.
Dating sites, sex, and MS
By the time I started this, I was already very seasoned and secure in fully disclosing my MS and HSV-1 diagnoses to men I met on dating sites in years past. The more provocative condition was (and still is) having HSV-1, aka type-1 herpes. I have had MS for 22 years, address it directly in my written profile, and discuss it with men who ask questions. It’s been 14 years since I contracted HSV-1 and I am pretty well informed about the risk of transmission and the ways a man can protect himself with me, and I discuss these things with each one. I am also open to discussing multiple sclerosis. It has worked out well. I have myself together about a lot of things now and that helps me maintain my confidence and self-esteem.
The caution of casual sex
I am not necessarily recommending that you do what I am doing. I was in a good place personally and was secure enough to put myself out there. But there is a risk in pursuing casual sex in this way. It is a dangerous world out there, and I do what I can to be safe.
For example, I live in a senior community and we watch each other's comings and goings. I am very close to them. Since I prefer to host men in my apartment, my neighbors and I have a system where they eyeball each visitor and note whether they leave my apartment. I make a point of telling each man about this so he knows he is being watched. My lovers have all been just average guys wanting sex. I’d like to think I am a good judge of character, but I am well aware that luck has played a role in it too. I also get tested for STD and publish the results right in my profile.
Sex and intimacy are possible with MS
So there is just a little background about my odyssey. In subsequent articles, I will describe more details about what has happened in the bedroom and what I have learned about what is real out there. I’ll leave you with this last thought: Despite what we have been told, there are a lot of people out there who are open to you exactly the way you are. For sex, intimacy, love, and combinations of those. It takes time and effort, but they can be found.
Did you experience any type of flare-up after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?