Sexual Motivation in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis: A Controlled Cross-Sectional Study

Petra Prinssen, Peter Joseph Jongen*, Marco Heerings, Elia Wyverkens, Guy T'Sjoen, Ellen Deschepper, Marieke Dewitte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Sexual motives are major determinants of sexual behaviour. It has been known that sexual motives may vary according to circumstances. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease causing a broad range of symptoms and disabilities, that often interfere with sexual activities. We aimed to investigate the sexual motives in persons with MS.Patients and Methods: Cross-sectional study in 157 persons with MS and 157 controls matched for age, gender, relationship, duration of relationship and educational status via propensity score matching. The Reasons for Having Sex (YSEX) questionnaire assessed the proportion with which a person had engaged in sexual intercourse for each of 140 distinct motives to have sex. Estimated mean differences in scores for four primary factors (Physical, Goal attainment, Emotional, Insecurity) and 13 sub-factors, and sexual satisfaction and importance of sex were calculated as Average Treatment Effect of the Treated using 99% confidence intervals.Results: Persons with MS reported a lower proportion of engaging in sex compared with the controls for the factors Physical (-0.29), Emotional (-0.23) and Insecurity (-0.10); and for the physical sub-factors Pleasure (-0.48), Experience seeking (-0.32), Stress reduction (-0.24), and Physical desirability (-0.16), the emotional sub-factors Love and commitment (-0.27) and Expression (-0.17), and the insecurity sub-factor Self-esteem boost (-0.23). In the control group seven of the top 10 sexual motives were physical versus five in the MS group. The importance of sex was lower in the MS group (-0.68).Conclusion: Findings of this controlled cross-sectional study suggest a reduction in the number of sexual motives in persons with MS, especially of physical motives related to pleasure and experience seeking. Health care professionals may consider assessing sexual motivation when dealing with persons with MS who suffer from decreased sexual desire or another sexual dysfunction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalDegenerative Neurological and Neuromuscular Disease
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023


  • sexual motivation
  • reasons to have sex
  • importance of sex
  • YSEX questionnaire
  • sexual motive
  • multiple sclerosis
  • MEN


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