Sexual Function In Women After Spinal Cord Injury

Is it possible to be sexually active after a spinal cord injury?

Your sexual response will depend on the location and severity of your spinal cord injury (SCI). You will need to make changes, but you can still have a fulfilling sex life.

How does my body respond to sexual stimulation after an SCI?

Even though you have an SCI, you may still have body areas that are sensitive to touch. Vaginal lubrication is a reflex sexual response, which means it is not under your control. Your vagina may still become lubricated when certain body areas are touched. If you do not produce enough lubrication, you can use an over-the-counter vaginal lubricant. You may need to work with your partner to discover sensitive areas that help you to become stimulated.

What do I need to know about bladder or bowel control during sexual activity?

If you do not have control of your bowel or bladder, you may worry about having an accident during sexual activity. You can try to avoid an accident by closely following your regular bowel and bladder program. Plan your sexual activity after you perform your regular bowel and bladder program. Healthcare providers may suggest that you avoid drinking liquids for 1 to 2 hours before sexual activity.

Can I have a baby after an SCI?

You can become pregnant after an SCI. You must have very good prenatal care to make sure that your baby is born as healthy as possible. You may develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. You may not be able to know when you are in labor. You may have problems with balance because of the added weight of the baby. You will also have an increased risk of developing pressure sores because of the weight gain of pregnancy.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection:

    • Urinating more often or waking from sleep to urinate

    • Blood in your urine

    • Urine that smells bad

    • Pain or cramping in your lower abdomen (if you have still have feeling in this area)

  • You feel that you need sexual counseling or education.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have a sudden throbbing headache.

  • You have red, sweaty, or flushed skin above the level of your SCI.

  • You have cold and clammy skin with goose bumps below the level of your SCI.

  • You have a stuffy nose or nausea.

  • You have blurred vision.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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