Fertility and sexuality in the spinal cord injury patient
After a spinal cord injury, patients have different perceptions of sexuality, sexual function, and potential for fertility. These changes can greatly impact quality of life over a lifetime.
The purpose of this workgroup was to identify common evidence based or expert opinion themes and recommendations regarding treatment of sexuality, sexual function and fertility in the spinal cord injury population.
As part of the SIU-ICUD joint consultation of Urologic Management of the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), a workgroup and comprehensive literature search of English language manuscripts regarding fertility and sexuality in the spinal cord injury patient were formed. Articles were compiled, and recommendations in the chapter are based on group discussion and follow the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine system for levels of evidence (LOEs) and grades of recommendation (GORs).
Genital arousal, ejaculation, and orgasm are significantly impacted after spinal cord injury in both male and female SCI patients. This may have a more significant impact on potential for fertility in male spinal cord injury patients, particularly regarding ability of generate erection, semen quantity and quality. Female patients should be consulted that pregnancy is still possible after injury and a woman should expect resumption of normal reproductive function. As a result, sexual health teaching should be continued in women despite injury. Pregnancy in a SCI may cause complications such as autonomic dysreflexia, so this group should be carefully followed during pregnancy.
By understanding physiologic changes after injury, patients and care teams can work together to achieve goals and maximize sexual quality of life after the injury.
KeywordsSpinal cord injury Sexuality Fertility Pregnancy
John T Stoffel—Protocol/project development, manuscript writing/editing. Frank Van Der Aa—manuscript writing/editing. Daniela Wittman—Manuscript writing/editing. Shirish Yande—Manuscript writing/editing. Stacy Elliott—Project development, Manuscript writing/editing
Compliance with ethical standards
Human and animal rights statement
This research did not involve human subjects or animals
No informed consent was needed for this research
Conflict of interest
J Stoffel—no conflict regarding this project, Frank Van Der Aa—no conflict, Daniela Wittman—no conflict, Shirish Yande—no conflict, Stacy Elliott—no conflict.
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