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Men Living with MS

January 10, 2017

MS LifeLines Ambassador Ric S. helps run an MS support group for men near his home in California. While he believes that coed support groups can be very beneficial, he says that sometimes spending time with just the guys can offer unique benefits. “If anything, I think it’s a comfort thing for the guys who come. Sometimes you just need to take a breath,” he says.

Dr Rick Munschauer, a neurologist with EMD Serono, agrees that if a man is more comfortable speaking his mind with the guys, that’s great. The important thing is to communicate. Some men may feel isolated if they’re no longer able to do their usual activities, like playing sports. Self-esteem can also take a hit if MS affects employment status. He says, “Although MS is less common in men than in women, it tends to be more aggressive.” So this is not a time to tough it out.

“Men tend to minimize their symptoms, which can make it harder for the physician to assess what’s going on,” adds Dr Munschauer. So be open and direct with your healthcare provider about the full range of ways MS impacts your life—and tell your family, too. “A lot of times, I’ll hear from a spouse, ‘I just don’t know what’s going on with him.’ I think men have to learn to be more expressive about the impact MS has on their life.” Fortunately, there are a lot of people like Ric who are ready to listen.

Tips for men:

  • Talk about what you’re feeling! Don’t try to be a tough guy
  • Share what you’re going through with your healthcare provider and your family
  • Look for a local men’s MS support group if you feel like talking to guys who can relate