Multiple sclerosis affects two to three times more women than men. It's a fact that most of the MS community can recite by heart. But that doesn't mean that men should feel left out of the loop. Men can and do experience different MS symptoms and they deal with it differently too. On the run-up to our New Pathways 'Men with MS' special, we've compiled a list of facts about Men with MS...
1. Men with MS are more likely to experience depression
According to a study in 2017, men with MS are more likely to experience depression than women. Another survey, carried out by the Mental Health Foundation, found that men are less likely to seek out counselling should they need to get something off their chest. We at MS-UK believe that it's good to talk. That's why we founded the nation's only MS Counselling service in October 2017. If you feel like you could benefit from speaking to one of our MS counsellors, you can register for sessions by filling out an online form.
2. Men with MS can experience erectile dysfunction...
Men with MS can experience difficulty achieving or maintaing an erection during sex. Sexual difficulties arise as a result of a complicated web of factors - both social and physical - but they are particularly common in those living with MS due to the affect that MS has on the nerves that control sexual responses in the brain and spinal cord.
3. ... But MS doesn't make a man infertile
Though men with MS might experience physical difficulties surrounding sex, studies have shown that the count and quality of sperm is not affected, meaning that babies are not at a higher risk of experiencing problems during pregnancy.
4. Men with MS are more likely to relapse
Men are three times more likely to experience a relapse than women, even though there is an approximately even ratio of men and women with onset primary progressive MS according to research. It also found that the male gender was associated with worse recovery from certain symptoms.
5. Testosterone may protect men from developing MS
Levels of testosterone are seven to eight times lower in women than men, leading to studies into the hormone's role in developing MS. A US study found that testosterone produces a molecule called IL-33 which, by opening up a specific pathway, can limit destructive immune responses such as MS. This may also go some way to explaining why women generally develop MS at a younger age than men, with male testosterone levels known to decline with age.
From the latest research, symptom management and your real life experiences, we want to hear from you! If you’re a man with a question about your MS, or maybe you would like to share your experience of how the condition has affected you, get in touch by emailing us.
Closing date for contributions is 19th June.