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Sex, Intimacy and Parkinson’s

Tuesday May 29, 2012

Many people with Parkinson’s experience changes in libido and sexual function, sometimes even before the first movement symptoms.  The causes can be many- some related to PD and some not.  Increased sexual desire can be associated with dopamine medicines especially dopamine agonists.  Listed below are just a few of the causes:

Parkinson’s related motor symptoms

  • Trouble with movement- tremor, stiffness, slowness, dyskinesia, dystonia
  • Stamina, Pain
Parkinson’s related nonmotor problems
  • Autonomic nervous system changes- altered neural control of sexual function
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep changes
Medicines used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms
  • Antidepressants (especially SSRIs)
  • Muscle relaxants and sleep aids
  • Dopamine agonists (increase sexual desire)
Other medical problems or medicines
  •  High blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, constipation,obesity, arthritis, bladder control, diabetes, prostate disease

Psychological factors that affect sexual health

  • Self esteem, Loss of control,  Anger/resentment, Negative body image, Changing role with loved one, Fear
Issues for partners and couples
  • Fatigue, Change to caregiver role,  Anger/resentment, Fear, Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Loss of interest, Focus on disease,  Communication problems
To learn more and find ways to help, see the NWPF Wellness Center

Monique L. Giroux, MDMonique L. Giroux, MD
Medical Director, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation

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