Sex after an SCI

Sex After a Spinal Cord Injury

WARNING: This article contains adult content and may not be suitable for younger readers.

Sex! You mean you it still works?

This topic is usually brought up with the standard preface of “Can I ask you a personal question?”. Followed quickly by “Can you still have sex?”. OF COURSE WE CAN! People with disabilities are too often seen as completely asexual individuals that should have no desire to be intimate with another person. Well duh! I mean why would you if you can’t feel it? Ah…the normies crack me up! Sexual activity is perfectly normal, healthy, and needed in a relationship. Unfortunately, sex after a spinal cord injury is rarely discussed. The largest obstacle to achieving a gratifying sexual relationship post SCI is communication. Be open with your partner about your needs and spice things up a bit! Candles, massage oils, music, dirty talk, toys, and lingerie can go a very long way.

Now, let’s not pretend that the sexual experience is the same as it was pre-SCI, but it’s still there. Your level of injury can make a difference in the experience itself. There are two basic types of physical arousal; reflex and psychogenic. Just because you can’t feel the stimulation doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t respond saying “oh wow, that feels good”. That would be your basic reflexive response. Touch it and they will…well you get the picture. There are a smaller portion of people who are able to attain physical arousal by thought alone. This can create some awkward moments when your mind begins wandering about your plans later while you’re out with friends and you can’t feel what is happening down there.

For the Men

Well it was up and then it wasn’t! One of the joys of having a SCI is that you can not always control your responses. Fortunately, there are ways around this issue for those who are determined. There are medications such as viagra and cialis. Your doctor can write a prescription after determining that you do not suffer from any blood pressure or heart related issues that would prevent use of such medication. There are also vacuum pumps designed for drawing blood into the penis to create an erection. If this route is used there are bands or rings that can be placed at the base of the penis to sustain the erection for some time. A vibrator can also be used under the head of the penis to attain an erection or to stimulate the prostate to orgasm. There are also a number of injectable medicines (cringe) and even surgeries (Dear Lord don’t cut it!!) for those who can not find success with these options.

For the Women

Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay! Did anyone mention foreplay? Yes, it is still possible in most cases to achieve natural lubrication if given the proper stimulation. However, if that does not work there are 16,000 types of artificial lubrications to choose from on the market. Warming, flavored, cooling, it’s a party in there! Always remember to use a water based lubricant if you are using latex condoms as a means of birth control or to prevent STDs.

STDs

Yes, you can still transmit and receive them. Always use proper protection when you are not in a committed monogamous relationship. The ability to ejaculate has no direct relationship on the ability to receive an STD. There is still an exchange of bodily fluids, and therefore proper protection is a must for all sexual activity.

Pregnancy and Birth Control

Yes ladies and gentlemen, she can more than likely still get pregnant. While a SCI does lower male fertility by a number of means it does not seem to have the same effect on the female anatomy. Do not assume that you are now infertile because there was a brief loss of your monthly cycle following your injury. Most females who suffered from a SCI regain their menses and the ability to get pregnant. Being confined to a wheelchair does lower the sperm count in most men due to the build up of heat in the testicular region. Combine that with retrograde or absent ejaculation and it can be a challenge to enlarge your family. With all of that being said you should never assume that pregnancy is not possible until a qualified physician tells you otherwise. Remember that 90% of accidents result in first time parents! How’s that for birth control?

Bladder and Bowel

Catheters and bowel programs…if that isn’t the epitome of sexiness then I don’t know what is! Did you know that the nerves that stimulate arousal are just a little too close to the nerves controlling the bladder and bowels? To avoid any unfortunate accidents please cath beforehand and make sure the bowel is empty. A condom can also be placed over the catheter if you have a one that can not be removed for whatever reason. Take care to make sure that the tubing is not kinked so that urine may still drain. For females the tubing may be placed and taped up on the hip area to keep it from interfering.

Aides

No, not AIDS or your PCA..I mean sexual aides! Suffering from a SCI can create multiple awkward moments in the bedroom. Positioning can be one of those issues. There are many choices for positioning pillows and chairs (Intimate Rider (LOVE IT)) to allow you to expand you sexual repertoire. Being disabled doesn’t need to equal being boring in the bedroom. The use of sex toys is something that should be encouraged. Hey! What you do in the privacy of your bedroom with your partner is your business. No one is judging you except for me. I will give you a 9.8 only because the dismount was slightly sloppy! Get creative and be willing to laugh at yourself and your partner.

Exploring Your Bodies

We need to face some basic truths about having a SCI. A lot of us are now numb or have very little sensation down there. That doesn’t mean your body can not feel pleasure. There are a ton of erogenous zones designed into your anatomy and sex is a lot in the mind. A lot of people become more sensitive in the nipple area or enjoy being kissed on the neck or the ears. People often find that the area just above their injury is a highly sensitive and pleasurable area to be explored.

Numbness

Being paralyzed in itself can create a number of potential problems. Being over zealous can result in tears of the skin; and we all know how long those can take to heal. If you can’t feel pain or discomfort there is a need to be gentle with these delicate areas.

Oral Sex

This should be obvious. It’s superflippingfantasticlyawesome and sure to please your partner. If you can not attain intercourse, and it does happen, oral sex is always a winner on it’s own. There’s no shame in that game folks.

Hugging, cuddling, kissing, touching, oral sex, and intercourse are all ways to achieve physical closeness with your partner. You are still alive and are still worthy of being loved and touched. An SCI can kill the self esteem and sexual drive. It is completely natural and healthy to want that relationship again!

There are also many health benefits to a sexual relationship. It releases endorphins to create a natural brain high. It improves circulation, lowers cholesterol, and cuts your risk of stroke or heart attack in half! People who have sex on a consistent basis have lower levels of depression, physical pain, and higher levels of self esteem. Who doesn’t want to feel wanted? Sex can also burn up to 200 calories a session! Who needs PT when you’re getting it with a smile? Go get your sexercise on!! But before you do, get the okay from your doctor for any specific issues needing to be addressed.

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