While multiple sclerosis (MS) is about three times more common in women than in men, that doesn’t mean that men are not at risk. Men with MS often go undiagnosed due to a delay in seeking medical care and a lack of prevalence of the disease.
Multiple sclerosis presents in men differently than women; some symptoms are specific to men, and other symptoms are experienced by all MS patients.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord, which make up the body’s central nervous system. As a result, the immune system damages the protective layer insulating the nerve fibers, called myelin. Damage to myelin disrupts the signals to and from the brain.
The exact cause of MS is unknown, and each patient’s experience with the disease is different.
Symptoms of MS
People with multiple sclerosis typically experience their first symptoms between 20 and 30. MS symptoms frequently fluctuate, getting better and then returning or worsening. Common MS symptoms include:
- Double vision or optic neuritis
- Loss of strength in limbs
- Muscle spasticity
- Struggles with balance, coordination, or gait
- Cognitive issues
- Bowel and bladder issues
- Pins and needles sensations
- Mood swings
These symptoms can appear once and never again, putting the patient into remission, or they can appear, disappear, and reappear, causing a relapse.
Men and Primary Progressive MS
While women are more likely to have MS, men are more likely to experience primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), where symptoms don’t improve or go into remission. The symptoms men experience may include:
- Cognitive impairment
- Difficulty obtaining and maintaining an erection
- Problems with brain function
- Increased disease progression
Additionally, men with MS present higher rates of hypergonadism.
What Are the MS Treatments for Men?
The MS treatment protocols for both men and women are the same. While multiple sclerosis has no permanent cure, many treatments are available to control the condition, manage symptoms, and improve quality of life.
Common medications for treating MS include injectable interferon beta and glatiramer acetate, monoclonal antibody treatments, and ocrelizumab (Ocrevus), the only disease-modifying therapy specifically approved to treat PPMS.
In treating relapses, doctors may prescribe corticosteroids, plasmapheresis, or IV immunoglobulins (IVIG) to expedite recovery and mitigate lasting effects.
Patients may also receive treatment for specific symptoms related to MS, such as muscle spasms, bladder issues, and sexual dysfunction.
Many MS patients benefit from natural treatments and therapies to alleviate symptoms, including:
- Physical therapy
- Yoga and exercise
While these therapies may not work for everyone, many MS patients report improvements in balance, mood swings, and other symptoms after implementing alternative treatments.
Stem Cell Therapies for MS
New therapies are being researched that may benefit men with MS. Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, uses stem cells to regenerate lost or damaged cells, is one of these.
Stem cell therapy for MS is still in the experimental phase. However, it is possible that stem cells could help heal the myelin sheath tissue damaged by MS. Men with multiple sclerosis might consider stem cell therapy as a potential alternative MS treatment.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for multiple sclerosis, also known as stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.