A spinal cord injury (SCI) may affect your sexual function. It may affect your mental, physical and social well-being related to your sexuality or sexual health, and your relationship with your partner, too. Counseling and education for sexuality and fertility management might be helpful as you adjust to your body's changes after a spinal cord injury.
SCI can impact your control over the genitals and sexual structures. The ability to achieve and maintain an erection and ejaculation may be affected by SCI. Blood flow to the vagina and vaginal lubrication may be affected by SCI. You may notice changes in libido and ability to orgasm.
Therapies for sexuality and fertility management after SCI may involve:
Psychological therapy. The mental and social well-being aspects of your sexual health after your spinal cord injury are as important as the physical aspects. The ability to feel good about your body after SCI and regain confidence in establishing and maintaining intimate relationships is a vital but often unaddressed aspect of sexual health after SCI.
A team of trained and experienced doctors, nurses and rehabilitation psychologists educates and counsels people regarding the mental and social well-being aspects of their sexual health.
Treatment for sexual dysfunction. People who have had spinal cord injuries may notice physical changes after their SCIs and may need treatment to help resume sexual activity.
Several potential treatment options include penile implants, assistive devices and medications.
Fertility counseling. Trained staff can discuss issues with you and your partner regarding sexual health and fertility and provide you with sexuality education and counseling.
Pregnancy is usually possible after spinal cord injury, as well as vaginal delivery. It's not uncommon for the menstrual cycle to pause temporarily after SCI. But once it starts again, pregnancy is possible. If you wish to become pregnant, you should plan the pregnancy and discuss any potential issues with your treatment team.
Support from friends, and educational and support groups can provide knowledge and coping skills. Support and education for partners is also an important part of sexuality rehabilitation after SCI.
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May 06, 2022
- Sexuality and reproduction after SCI. American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. https://now.aapmr.org/sexuality-and-reproduction-after-sci/. Accessed March 1, 2022.
- Sexuality for women with spinal cord injury. United Spinal Association. https://askus-resource-center.unitedspinal.org/index.php?pg=kb.page&id=1579. Accessed March 1, 2022.
- Sramkova T, et al. Women's sex life after spinal cord injury. Sexual Medicine. 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.esxm.2017.07.003.
- Abrams GM, et al. Chronic complications of spinal cord injury and disease. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 1, 2022.
- Thrussell H, et al. Women's experiences of sexuality after spinal cord injury: A UK perspective. Spinal Cord. 2018; doi:10.1038/s41393-018-0188-6.
- Provider profile. CARF International. http://www.carf.org/providerProfile.aspx?cid=8020. Accessed March 1, 2022.
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Sexuality and fertility management after spinal cord injury