Understand Erectile Dysfunction | Other causes

Can Spinal Cord Injuries Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

The neurological sphere is essential to the smooth functioning of our body. Spinal cord injuries, for example, can disrupt communication between the brain and body, resulting in partial or total paralysis of the limbs. This type of injury can lead to erectile dysfunction.

"I have noticed changes in my sex life due to my spinal cord disease, including difficulties in getting an erection."

Sexuality After Spinal Cord Injury

Any spinal cord injury can affect the connection between your brain and your nerves. However, to ensure the optimal performance of your sexual function, your entire neurological system must be in good condition. It is clear that erectile dysfunction is related to the extent of your injury: if it is incomplete, you will be more likely to have preserved sexual function. However, if the injury is significant, you may have difficulty achieving an erection as well as reaching ejaculation (ejaculation requires extensive coordination between the nerves, penis and brain).

Can I Experience Desire With a Spinal Injury?

A spinal cord injury, depending on the level of lesion and completeness (S2-S4 are crucial), can alter the cerebral control, affecting the psychological and reflexogenic potential for genital arousal and also ejaculation and orgasm1. In men, erection, ejaculation, and orgasm are under separate neurological control and can be individually affected by a spinal cord injury. Your sexual desire can be impacted, but don’t worry, many solutions exist!

What is the key factor? Successfully adapting both physically and psychologically to this change. Yes, your sex life can still be fulfilling and rewarding! Some suggestions:

  • Get to know each other better, by exploring new erogenous body regions: pleasure can also be found in other areas than your genitals!
  •  Keep an open mind and a willingness to experiment with new ideas: discuss your fantasies with your partner. Don’t close any doors!
  • Try to use all your senses for more excitement: taste, by using certain foods, music, to determine the mood, touch, by exploring various parts of the body and vision, by perusing your partner or other stimulating images.

The psychological sphere is therefore essential to your sexual development. Learning to have sex again can be scary, but, keeping an open mind will make you feel more comfortable and allow you to discover new methods that may satisfy you. For more ideas, feel free to check out our sexologist’s viewpoint.

How to Treat Erectile Dysfunction Due to Spinal Cord Injury?

To increase the number and duration of your erections, you can rely on a number of treatments. These are in fact the same as those used in erectile dysfunction not caused by spinal cord injury. Including:

For more information on these treatments, see the following article: ED Treatment Option

Whether your ED is the result of diabetesheart disease, neurological disorders or cancer treatment, help is available. When you make an appointment to discuss ED with your doctor, they will go over your options and help you decide what’s best for your unique situation.

1: Krassioukov A, Elliott S.Neural Control and Physiology of Sexual Function: Effect of Spinal Cord Injury. Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. 2017 Winter;23(1):1-10.

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