How Spinal Cord Injuries Affect Your Sex Life

Good news: SCI and sex life are not mutually exclusive!

If you or your partner have a spinal cord injury, you could still have a successful pregnancy. However, spinal cord injuries change your lifestyle as well as sexuality, sexual function, and fertility; all of which affect your sexual experiences throughout your lifetime. Understanding how you or your partner’s condition can fit into your sex life could help fulfill the needs of your relationship.

  • The word on the street
  • How does SCI affect our sex lives?
  • SCI in men and women
  • Autonomic dysreflexia

The word on the street

The World Journal of Urology recently published an article on the fertility and sexuality of SCI patients. Throughout the study, researchers aimed to find common ground between several experts on the most proper treatment for the sexuality, sexual function, and fertility of SCI people.

In other words, researchers tried to get the biggest fertility data nerds to agree on helpful answers, based on data trends and statistics, to give SCI patients when they ask for help understanding their fertility and sexuality. With these answers, medical practitioners could offer options to SCI patients that they might not have known they had.

‍Spinal cord injuries are physiologically and emotionally life-changing for those they affect.

In the end, participants in the study gathered a bunch of manuscripts about fertility and sexuality in SCI patients and compiled the best articles for their research. Recommendations were agreed upon during group discussion. The resulting recommendations also followed the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine system for levels of evidence (LOEs) and grades of recommendation (GORs).

So how do SCI affect our sex life?

Keep in mind that spinal injuries have a significant effect on the nervous system, which also means a significant effect on the sense of touch. That includes genital arousal, ejaculation, and orgasms, all of which will be different post-injury for both male and female SCI patients. If you neurologically can’t be aroused with sexual thoughts or fully feel your partner touching you, then it may be more difficult to achieve sexual pleasure.

How does SCI affect men and women?

Male SCI patients generally have a hard time (not literally, sadly) with erections because of SCI’s effect on the nervous system, depending on where the injury occurred. Other issues that SCI bring to the table include erectile dysfunction, and questionable semen quantity and quality.

Women who experience a spinal cord injury could still bear children--there’s nothing wrong with their reproductive organs! Doctors advise sexual health education for even SCI women, which means informing them on the certain risks they face as well as their options in order to achieve a happy sex life or successful pregnancy.

But just because SCI could get pregnant doesn’t mean they are free of risk. Pregnancy could cause complications for an SCI such as autonomic dysreflexia, so they should frequently

consult health professionals throughout each step of their pregnancy.

Reminder: You should know what autonomic dysreflexia is.

Autonomic dysreflexia is triggered by pressure underneath the level of the spinal cord injury. Because of the spine’s close connection with the nervous system and tactile perception, SCI may not be able to feel tight clothing pinching the skin or a full bladder. The pressure raises blood pressure and lowers the heart rate, which could be dangerous for the person involved.

If you have an SCI, you probably already know what autonomic dysreflexia is. However, weird discomfort and squeezed bladders will be increasingly common while pregnant. Naturally, an expanding uterus is going to take up space where your internal organs sit.

With these risks and issues in mind, we advise SCI patients to cooperate with medical practitioners in order to live the most sexually healthy life they can.

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