|Although changes in sexual behaviour are often uncomfortable
to discuss with family, friends and professionals, they are very common in persons with HD.
Changes in the brain can
be associated with changes in sexual interest and functions.
Some persons with HD report that they have increased sexual
drive whereas others report diminished sexual interest. Increased promiscuity can be secondary to disinhibition, poor judgment,
or impulsivity. Decreased sex drive can be secondary to depression, apathy, or an inability to initiate activity.
the reasons for sexual behaviour changes are not fully understood, changes in sexual functioning often need to be addressed.
-The brain is no longer able to regulate, or
gate, the amount of sexual drive a person has, resulting in too much, or too little.
-The delicate balance of hormones
in the brain is disrupted by the presence and progression of Huntington disease, resulting in variations in behaviours typically
regulated by hormone levels.
is "single" for the first time in 20 years but does not have the social skills to appropriately initiate relations.
is taking a tricyclic antidepressant for a moderate depression and still desires intercourse with his wife but is unable to
sustain an erection.
-Julie is embarrassed about the way her body looks with constant
movements; her husband is saddened that she has pulled away from their sexual intimacy.
-Terry has increased
his sexual relations dramatically; his family is concerned about sexually transmitted diseases.
Addressing the Changes in Sexual Functioning
has the right to achieve his/her highest reasonable potential on the continuum of human sexual development.
It is a
misconception that inheriting a degenerative disease will cause an end to ones sexuality. There are several ways to better
adjust to the changes that Huntington's can bring.
Most important is the need to maintain communication. Readers may
want to review the bullets that highlight improving communication and do so with your sexual relationships in mind.
to supportive services, educators, and counselors can also be valuable, and community health centres should be able to
provide a list of local resources.
Sexuality is a lifelong process of learning about oneself and growing as a social
and sexual being. All people have a right and a need to be fully and accurately informed about what unique pleasures, joys,
and pain this aspect of identity can bring.
Remember to allow yourself to respond to change and adjust as needed. Respect
the space and development of those around, and keep in mind that rarely is it just one party who is affected by change.