Sexuality & Relationships

Sexuality & Fertility

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Put away your doubts, you can have sex after a spinal cord injury. We won't lie however - having damage to the spinal cord does make things different. With decreased sensation and not being able to move as easily, all of this requires some creative thinking. And yes, you can still enjoy sex and have babies as well.

For men with spinal cord injuries, getting and keeping erections is the biggest problem after an injury. It doesn't respond the same. Medicine or treatments will be needed to help in this department. For women, positioning during sex and giving birth can be the trickiest aspects of their sexuality post-injury.

But remember, the most important thing to remember is that you are still YOU. Your spinal cord may be damaged, but your wheelchair doesn't define you. And don't worry, you can find a partner who doesn't just see there wheelchair. Many open-minded people are out there and marry people with spinal cord injuries.

Want to know more? Read on for some of the most important things men and women need to know about sex after a spinal cord injury.

Females

Some like to think women have it easier after a spinal cord injury in the sex department, but it's hard for all after a spinal cord injury. For women, one of the biggest things is that the vagina doesn't lubricate as easily as before. Lubrications help a lot with this, so make sure you have plenty if you plan on having sex. And don't let this bring you down. Even if you don't have a spinal cord injury, many couples use lubrication to make sex more fun.

Decreased sensation is another big problem for women. Thinking "Why have sex if I can't feel it?" is how many women feel if they're injured. Many think achieving orgasm is impossible too, but they are wrong. There are studies that have revealed that with the right amount of stimulation to the G-Spot, paralyzed women can still reach orgasm.

And it simply feels good to be with someone in an intimate way. Getting out of your wheelchair and into someone's arms...there's nothing else like it. After you get in bed, finding the best positions takes some work, but no matter your torso ability, there are at least a couple of positions out there you should be able to do.

Having sex side-by-side or even in your wheelchair is possible too. Sex from behind and with the woman on top are possible if you have a partner willing to help, or if you're strong enough to be on top. Sex toys, positioning pillows, sex bouncers, and sex swings also help a lot. Definitely experiment until you find what's needed to have a pleasurable sexual experience.

And women with spinal cord injuries can get pregnant just as easily as before. While some choose not to carry a child for their own personal concerns, most can carry a child successfully without any complications. Always remember to use birth control whenever engaging in sexual activity. 

When it comes to giving birth, many women will schedule C-Sections, however it's still possible to give birth naturally even if you can't push. When in labor, the muscles in the female's body will naturally contract. The only concern to be worried about is autonomic dysreflexia during childbirth. Since severe pain can trigger this, many women schedule a C-Section just to be safe

Males

For men with spinal cord injuries, things get a little bit more complicated. For positioning help, the Intimate Rider is a product that enables many men with SCI to have a more active role in bed. As for maintaing an erection post-injury, most need medicine to help it along. Mainstream erection medications, such as Viagra, will only help men with spinal cord injuries from the T6 level and below.

For everyone above the T6 level, they'll need something stronger. A procedure many men with spinal cord injuries use is Medicated Urethral System Erection, MUSE. This procedure uses a medicated pellet that's placed into the urethra. Once it's absorbed by the surrounding tissue, the penis becomes erect.

And if that doesn't work, a stronger medicine that's injected directly into the base of the penis called Alprostadil can be used. A doctor will show you how to do this at home, and note (because of side effects) this should only be used once a week. It may sound scary at first, but most can't feel this injection and the drug works swiftly.

Otherwise, a vacuum pump or a prosthetic penis have been used by men with spinal cord injuries. Orgasming however is something many men with spinal cord injuries struggle with.

And if they want to get their partner pregnant, they can but they will need to try a few methods. The first is a special vibrator that helps stimulate an orgasm - the Ferticare Vibrator. If that doesn't the work, minor surgery is used to remove sperm so it can be implanted into their partner's womb. This procedure is called Invitro-Fertilization and has helped thousands of men with spinal cord injuries have children.

Video: Sexual Health after Spinal Cord Injury Part 1

Takeaway Points

  • Sex is still possible after a spinal cord injury
  • Decreased sensation can be overcome in creative ways
  • Women with spinal cord injuries experience a lack of lubrication
  • Many women with spinal cord injuries will have C-sections to ensure a safe birth and avoid autonomic dysreflexia
  • Viagra only works on men with spinal cord injuries T6 and below
  • MUSE is a procedure used by men to achieve an erection, and involves a medication pellet under the urethra
  • An injection called alprostadil is another option for men to achieve an erection above the T6 level
  • A Ferticare vibrator or a surgical procedure to the testicles can be used to extract sperm

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