Online Lecture to Address Sexuality and Intimacy in People with Parkinson’s and Other Chronic Ills

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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apathy and Parkinson's

Tuppy Owens, a sex therapist who works and advocates on behalf of the disabled, will hold an online lecture on  July 26 focusing on sexuality in the context of chronic conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, and how patients and caregivers can best enjoy this aspect of their lives.

Registration is free for the Wednesday lecture, and Tuppy will discuss topics like self-acceptance, overcoming physical dysfunction or symptoms like fatigue or limited movement, as well as talk about how to create intimacy beyond sex.

The event is organized by GeneFo, an online Parkinson’s community that connects patients, expert educational resources, and clinical trials. A GeneFo survey of Parkinson’s patients found sex to be among the topics patients most wanted to talk, about but were too embarrassed to openly ask their doctors.

“With all that I have to face; managing my condition, coping with debilitating symptoms, uncertainty, and changes in my life, how can I still have an enjoyable sex life and validate my desires?” was the overwhelming response by patients, according to a GeneFo announcement.

Sex and intimacy are sensitive topics for anyone to discuss. But the challenges of living with Parkinson’s adds an extra layer of sensitivity. While many medical practitioners offer guidance and treatments to improve health and quality of life, questions of intimacy often remain unaddressed.

According to GeneFo, recent studies suggest most men with Parkinson’s — 54 to 79 percent — consider erectile dysfunction to be the most distressing of their disabilities. Among women, vaginal tightness, loss of lubrication, involuntary urination, anxiety, and inhibition are the most upsetting issues reported, and are the ones most likely to interfere with a sexual experience.

Partners of Parkinson’s disease patients may also feel ambivalent about sex, for reasons ranging from guilt for wanting to engage in sex to no longer finding their partner sexually attractive.  The online lecture is intended to create an opportunity for patients and caregivers to learn more about what they can do, alone or as a couple, and to improve the emotional rollercoaster and physical challenges that Parkinson’s poses to sexuality.

“We are very proud to be offering this important session for the Parkinson’s community, to provide a useful and valuable resource and point of encouragement. Dr. Tuppy has been at the forefront of campaigning for and supporting people with chronic conditions/disabilities, and has helped many patients find healthier and happier lives while rediscovering intimacy and sexuality. In the webinar, she will offer practical advice and ideas on how to overcome the physical and emotional difficulties of achieving intimacy and sexual health. Her years of experience, openness, and profound sensitivity will surely (hopefully) resonate with those seeking answers and will address their unmet needs,” said Neer Ziskind, GeneFo chief executive officer.