Signs & Symptoms of MS in Women


Multiple sclerosis attacks the central nervous system, and symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. Each person is affected differently---from occasional numbness in the limbs to paralysis and blindness. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from MS, and signs or symptoms generally show up around age 20 or 30. Although not fatal, the symptoms can alter the sufferer's lifestyle and quality of life. According to statistics from Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, more than 350,000 people in the United States suffer from MS.

Eye Problems

  • An inflammation in the optic nerves affects most women with MS. Signs of an inflammation include blurred or double vision and may bring on pain or involuntary eye movement. Other eye problems she might encounter are difficulty following or tracking with both eyes and the sensation of inanimate objects or the environment moving.


  • As the day progresses, the MS patient typically experiences malaise and fatigue by early afternoon. A fever may accompany the fatigue.

Arms and Legs

  • MS sufferers may feel a weakness or weightiness in the arms and legs. Sometimes they tingle or have an electrical sensation. Heat can make this symptom worse, so during the summer, MS sufferers should try to stay in air conditioned rooms and buildings to prevent these sensations.


  • Weakness in the legs may cause balance issues and tremors. Many MS sufferers experience itching, aching and shakiness in their muscles, causing spasms or a stiffening sensation.

Bladder and Bowels

  • Urinating can be difficult for multiple sclerosis patients because the urge to go isn't always there. This may create leakage, so people who suffer from this should use the restroom frequently, even when they don't have to go. Some women with MS suffer from constipation or incontinence of the bowels.

Other Symptoms

  • Most women with MS experience pain as a sign of the condition, either for a short time or longer, and this seems to get worse with age. Another common problem is sexual dysfunction, something that occurs in more than 70 percent of patients, according to statistics from the University of Maryland Medical Center. Difficulty swallowing, speech and hearing problems, concentration and mood swings are all common symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Symptom Triggers

  • Certain conditions trigger symptoms in women with multiple sclerosis. Viral or bacterial infections can cause the onset or worsening of symptoms. Heat, stress and physical trauma have also been known to bring on the signs of MS.


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