Navigating sex and relationships with a spinal cord injury
Sex and sexuality are a normal and important part of everyday life. Sexual thoughts and feelings don’t change after you experience an injury.
You may just have to approach things a little bit differently.
Changes in function for men
The main issue relating to men’s sexual health is the ability to have, and maintain, an erection. Some men may also experience loss or limited sensation in the penis, reduced fertility and for those prone to Autonomic Dysreflexia, sexual stimulation may trigger this condition.
Changes in function
Although spinal cord damage doesn’t change a woman’s fertility, there are several other changes women may experience including the way you experience an orgasm, reduction in the natural lubrication of the vagina, changes to your menstrual cycle and for those prone to Autonomic Dysreflexia, sexual stimulation may trigger this condition.
Intimacy and intercourse
Having a physical disability won’t prevent you from having intercourse or sex, but it will likely impact your ability to be spontaneous. But with a little planning you can still enjoy being intimate with your partner.
For example, it’s important to ensure your bladder is emptied, transfers need to be negotiated as well as un-dressing and managing leg bags and catheters.
It’s important to be open with your partner and communicate freely so you can find what works best for you. Even though you may have established a close, physically nurturing relationship with your partner before your injury, you may need to adjust your communication style and expectations until you have established your new ‘rhythm’.
If you’re not sure where to start, our Peer Support team, and Allied Health professionals can help start the conversations.
Pregnancy & childbirth
The main impact on the ability of couples to become pregnant, is likely to be the man’s ability to produce and ejaculate sperm. If you are interested in starting a family, there are a wide variety of fertility options available, and consulting your doctor early is the best first step.
A full-term pregnancy with a natural childbirth is possible with spinal cord injury. Although many women prefer to take the option of caesarean section birth, again, you should consult your GP and seek their advice. The main risks associated with natural labour include Autonomic Dysreflexia, blood clots and chance of incurring pressure injuries.
You may have a lot of questions and are unsure who the best person is to be able to provide you with answers and solutions. Spinal cord damage does not mean intimacy and relationships are not possible. Our Community Nurses provide sex consultations to individuals and to couples. No topic is off limits, with telehealth also available.
Contact us today to find out more.