Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a rare autoimmune condition that affects the nerve cells controlling muscle movement. LEMS is characterized by muscle weakness that starts in the lower limbs.

How LEMS causes sexual dysfunction

LEMS affects nerve cells that control muscle movement. These cells regulate both voluntary and involuntary movement, or subconscious body functions like digestion, heart rate, respiratory rate, and sexual activity. This part of the nervous system is called the autonomic nervous system.

Sexual dysfunction is a LEMS symptoms that is not frequently mentioned, but can affect both sexes. Men with LEMS mainly experience erectile dysfunction or impotence, and women a reduction or loss of sex drive.

The impact of sexual dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction can cause feelings of frustration and sadness, and damage confidence. It can also lead to clinical depression. Sexual dysfunction can put a lot of stress on a relationship.

Knowing that difficulties with sexual intimacy are due to LEMS might bring a sense of relief, because it lessens feelings of personal failure or weakness. It is also vital that the partner knows the situation is not due to the nature of the relationship or what they bring to it.

How to deal with sexual dysfunction

Because sexual dysfunction is a stress factor for relationships, open and honest conversations between partners are crucial. Understanding that difficulties are caused by a medical condition may make them easier to deal with. The partner needs to know that lost intimacy has nothing to do with a lack of attraction or depth of feelings.

In turn, patients need support and encouragement from their partners, talks that let them know feelings will not change because of the situation they face.

Sexual intercourse is not the only way to be intimate. Exploring alternative ways to experience mutual pleasures can help, like massages, hugs, or shared hobbies.

Eliminating other factors that could also impact sexual function might be of help. One is emotional stress, which can make such problems worse. Yoga, meditation, and regular exercise aids in lowering stress.

Local support groups can be an excellent place to exchange experiences with people also affected by sexual dysfunction. Knowing how others cope with such a situation can help in finding a solution that works for you as well.

 

Last updated: September 1, 2019

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Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.