Sexual functions are a very important aspect of our physical and mental health. With the onset of Parkinson's disease, many aspects of a person's physical and mental well being are affected by the disease and this includes his sexual abilities.
Parkinson's disease affects the body, but it does not have to affect the heart or soul. Patents can still show love to their partners. Whether you are the patient or a care giver, love is not contingent of physical abilities. Couples should never forget the joy of romance. Both partners should make every effort to make the relationship as warm and tender as possible.
It is common that the onset of Parkinson's disease in a relationship can change the quality of the relationship. Couples should be mindful that these changes may occur gradually as the disease progresses and may be hard to be seen.
Making love is a natural expression of love and sometimes a physical disability such as Parkinson's disease can impinge on that activity. It may even cause it to stop altogether.
But it is important to remember that Parkinson's disease can affect the sexual relationship on several different levels. Many times, experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson's disease or helping the patient who has the disease through the symptoms may mean that the patient or the care giver is simply too tired to perform. One way to deal with this is consider making love in the morning before either is too tired by the day's work.
Also, it should be remembered that Parkinson's disease can also affect the autonomic nervous system which controls a man's ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Obviously, this can have an effect on the sexual performance. Occasionally, adjusting medication dosages may be helpful in limiting these effects. Women suffering from Parkinson's disease may also be experiencing menopause, and sexual intercourse may become difficult due to vaginal dryness or pain during intercourse. This is a common occurrence in menopause and there are treatments available for this.
The usual tremors and shaking that accompanies Parkinson's disease can make the sufferer embarrassed about his body. The same is true with drooling and the other involuntary movements that the body makes. These can often affect the partner as well. Sucking on a mint will encourage swallowing and can help prevent drooling.
A common problem with couples is that some spouses are afraid of hurting their partner; this is especially true immediately after the diagnosis has been made. Some people notice that the tremors can be worse following lovemaking, and they believe that this is making the disease worse. None of this is true. The tremors are temporary in this case.
Couples should understand as well that their partner may not be interested in pursuing a sexual relationship during the months following the diagnosis. This can be due to stress, fear, sleeplessness, or many other things. Care givers and patients alike should read as much as possible on the disease and educate each other as best they can so each fear and each worry can be dealt with rationally.
Lastly, this is a progressive disease. The symptoms will get worse over time and couples need to fully understand this and come to terms with it. There will come a time when sexual activity will not be an option.
Sexual problems, for both partners, may be frustrating with the onset of Parkinson's disease, but there are ways and means to improve or even restore sexuality in the relationship. For some couples, a visit to the doctor can be helpful for getting suggestions on the best course of action to solve any problems that a couple might be experiencing. If nothing else, it is a good support vehicle for most couples.
By Jeremy Parker
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