Researchers have revealed that a stroke can have a significant impact on the physical, psychological and emotional bonding between a couple.
A new study conducted by researchers from Northern Ireland showed that sexual relationships were significantly affected after a stroke, gender roles became blurred and feelings like anger and frustration were stunned by a lack of independence and ongoing fatigue.
"All the participants perceived stroke as a life-changing event," said Hilary Thompson, who is based at Mullinure Hospital, Armagh, and carried out the research with Dr Assumpta Ryan from the School of Nursing and Institute of Nursing Research at the University of Ulster.
"They faced a continuous daily struggle to achieve some sense of normality and that required huge amounts of physical and mental effort," she added.
The findings revealed a reduction or total loss of sexual desire after suffering a stroke. Some felt that this was down to medication and fear of another stroke.
Most of the females also lost interest in their appearance, regardless of their age.
The attack also led to consistent irritability, anger, agitation and intolerance
"I'm normally easy going, but now the slightest little thing sets off the temper" said a patient , adding that his wife would "probably say I've turned into a miserable pig."
The patients also felt frustrated at not being able to perform routine daily activities.
They are being discouraged from doing things they could do before their stroke, which made the survivors feel demoralised, and affected their confidence.
The survivors were also reluctant to resume social activities.
"There is no doubt that strokes have a profound effect on relationships and our research showed many of the physical, psychological, social and emotional issues a stroke can raise" said co-author Dr Ryan.
"It is important to point out that stroke can happen at any age and many of the survivors who took part in our study were relatively young," Ryan added.
The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.