This section provides resources on sexual anatomy and fertility after spinal cord injury to help you understand what’s changed and what hasn’t. Learning about your anatomy as it relates the mechanics of sex and fertility is only one part of the subject.
Perhaps you wonder if you can get pregnant or can father a child. Or are interested in knowing what options exist to help with the ‘physical’ response of arousal. Women’s topics include understanding the anatomical impact of spinal cord injury on a woman’s menstrual cycle, one’s ability to get pregnant, and resources to help you manage your health during pregnancy. Tips to support healthy childbirth and parenting with a spinal cord injury are also included. For men, topics include resources to assist with erectile dysfunction, medications, and other resources to enhance fertility and sexual vitality.
For many, sex after paralysis is more than creating or having a baby. Added resources on the topic of intimacy after spinal cord injury include information on body image, ways to feel sexy and attractive, tips for dating and building relationships.
The way you approach sex, dating, relationships, and intimacy with a spinal cord injury may be different from before your injury. Explore this resource section to heighten your sexual creativity, knowledge, and enjoyment.
This guide from BC Women’s Hospital and Health Center, outlines the risks that women with SCI may face during pregnancy such as an increase risk for autonomic dysreflexia, urinary tract infections, anemia, pressure sores, blood clots and premature labor.
BeautyAbility is an informational website for people with spinal cord injury that covers topics such as dating, sex, fashion, and plastic surgery post-injury. You’ll find articles and tips on how to adapt fashion to your wheelchair, how to still enjoy sex after a SCI, and how to show perspective mates to look past your wheelchair. Blog and podcasts provide interesting perspectives on ways to life an active and healthy lifestyle.
Disability awareness author and speaker Gary Karp explores the subject of sexuality in a way that is touches upon many common concerns of people living with spinal cord injury. Disability & the Art of Kissing is a collection of concise responses to essential questions about intimacy and sexuality in the context of disability touching upon the universal nature of love.
Although originally published in the 1990s, nothing about “Enabling Romance” seems outdated. Written by a couple who has been there, this book is an illustrated guide to intimacy and sexual expression for people with disabilities. It comes highly recommended by professionals in the field of spinal cord injury, as it debunks the myths of sexuality in people with disabilities.
This consumer education sheet, from the Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Cord Injury System at Craig Hospital, provides information about erectile dysfunction and options for men after spinal cord injury. The document covers several treatment options to help increase the number of erections and how long they last. These options include medications, penile implants, and sexual aids.
GirlsHealth.gov was created in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) to help girls (ages 10 to 16) learn about health, growing up, and issues they may face. GirlsHealth.gov promotes healthy and positive behaviors in girls, giving them reliable and useful health information in a fun, easy-to-understand way. The website also provides information on Illness & Disability to help teach girls with disabilities, family members, and friends about healthy living.
This guide from BC Women’s Hospital and Health Center outlines intrapartum care recommendations for women with spinal cord injury and their medical care providers. Topics cover labor, autonomic dysreflexia, pain management, pulmonary function and other complications that may arise during child birth.
Robert W. Baer, Psy.D., offers detailed and useful information for resuming sexual relations and developing an increased level of intimacy. Sexual anatomy is discussed, as is the sexual response cycle, erectile dysfunction, fertility techniques, positions, and sexual aids.
Disability awareness author and speaker Gary Karp provides a comprehensive guidebook for people with mobility disabilities – Life on Wheels. It’s written in an affirming tone that helps people pursue their true, full potential. Candid discussions and tips regarding rehabilitation, healthy disability, the experience of disability, wheelchair selection, intimacy and sex, spinal cord research, home access, and getting out their are presented in an easy to understand way with good humor and useful insight.
Mad Spaz Wheelchair Club promotes living life to the fullest. This website offers information on disability adventures, ranging from bungy jumping to fishing, gliding, and skydiving. Personal articles on disability humor, sex, love, and relationships, as well as resources for wheelchairs and equipment are also provided. Club members have additional access to Forums to exchange ideas and information.
This online booklet, created by the Miami Project’s Male Fertility Research program, provides information about changes in male sexual function and fertility that may accompany spinal cord injury (SCI), and outlines the options available to deal with such changes.
This book was developed by leading Mayo Clinic experts, and covers a wide variety of spinal cord injury related topics such as emotional adjustments, sexuality, skin care, and adaptive equipment. The independence-granting book encourages readers to resume their favorite hobbies, participate in athletic activities, and return to the workplace quickly and safely.
mobileWOMEN.org is an online magazine for women in wheelchairs, created by women in wheelchairs, who were having difficulty finding answers to their questions about health, fashion, and other topics. Their mission is to bring together current and accurate information on issues of interest to our community. It is a website where can women unite to ask questions and share experiences. Most of all, this site is a place where we can learn from each other.
This manual was created as a practical resource for people with disabilities. It includes research, clinical expertise and product information, and provides examples and illustrations of potential sexual practice.
This postpartum care guide developed by BC Women’s Hospital and Health Center lists issues women with spinal cord injury may experience after child birth. Topics include breast feeding, handling a baby, bowl and bladder care, going home and resuming sexual relations.
This guide from BC Women’s Hospital and Health Center was designed for women contemplating pregnancy after spinal cord injury. Issues for consideration include altered urinary and bowel function, skin breakdown, deep vein thrombosis, respiratory efforts, autonomic dysrefelxia.
This booklet provides women with spinal cord injury the information they need to make informed decisions when planning a pregnancy. It outlines key things to consider during the perinatal period (preconception, conception, pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum) and where to go to get additional information, help and services.
Having a spinal cord injury (SCI) does not affect your ability to naturally become pregnant, carry, and deliver a baby, so your decision to have children is made in much the same way as anyone else. You consider the demands and challenges of parenting and how you might manage them. Here are other facts to consider when deciding whether or not you want to have children.
This information sheet, created by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Model System (UAB-SCIMS), discusses the issues of pregnancy such as planning and managing, as well labor and delivery.
SCI Sexual Health is an extensive resource on sex after spinal cord injury. Created by sexual health clinicians and specialists at Spinal Cord Injury BC, it covers everything from fertility, mobility and the sensory system, to relationships, parenting and self image.
Watch Gary Karp, an internationally recognized public speaker and author, talk about the impact of traumatic change on sexuality and intimate activity. Karp has been living, fully, with a T12 spinal cord injury since 1973 when he was injured in a fall from a tree at the age of eighteen. This excerpt of his 2008 Abilities Expo speech, “Sex on Wheels—The Possibilities”. Follow this link to watch the excerpt, via the Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.
This consumer education sheet from Craig Hospital provides information on sexual function for men after a spinal cord injury. Topics include how SCI may affect sexual function, erection, ejaculation, organisms, ability to satisfy a partner, preventing complications, such as autonomic dysreflexia, skin care, bladder care and bowel issues, fathering a child / fertility, and annual medical check-ups.
This consumer education sheet by Craig Hospital provides information on many common questions of women with a spinal cord injury regarding sexual functioning. Topics include how sexual function may be affected, menstrual periods, tampons, menstrual pads, birth control, having children, fertility, organism, preventing complications, such as autonomic dysreflexia, care of bladder and bowel issues, skin care, and annual visits with a gynecologist.
Paralysis affects a man’s sexuality both physically and psychologically. Men wonder, “Can I still do it?” This article from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation answers that question and more regarding sexual health for men.
Paralysis itself doesn’t affect a woman’s libido or her need to express herself sexually, nor does it affect her ability to conceive a child. The main difference in sexual functioning between women with disabilities and those without can be accounted for by the difficulties women with disabilities have in finding a romantic partner. This section of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation’s website explains this and other sexual health topics women may face after a spinal cord injury.
Sexualhealth is a website featuring information on sexual function for people with disabilities. It has an extensive resource section on Disability and Chronic Diseases, and covers topics such as “Sex Redefined,” and “Sex and Injury.” Follow this link, and pick a topic of interest.
Loss of muscle movement, sense of touch, and sexual reflexes often occurs after spinal cord injury (SCI). How this loss affects arousal, orgasm, and fertility depends on your level of injury and whether your injury is complete or incomplete.
This video archive and website is a resource for people living with spinal cord injury, their partners, and the healthcare professionals who treat them. It provides the knowledge and practical information needed to encourage communication and instill hope that love, sex and intimacy are all possible after spinal cord injury.
Created by the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine, “What You Should Know” explores a range of topics related to sexuality and sexual function after spinal cord injury. The guide was developed with the belief that all people who want to be sexually active after Spinal Cord Injury should have the knowledge they need to make that decision and be comfortable with their sex life whatever their level of injury. With straightforward facts and discussions of the wide range of topics affecting sexuality, the guide not only provides current medical information but can serve as a tool for making the conversation about sexuality after Spinal Cord Injury easier to have.
This informational website was developed by Stanley Ducharme, a psychologist and sex therapist specializing in physical disability, rehabilitation, sexual dysfunction and relationship issues. A variety of consumer-friendly information is presented on topics ranging from birth control options for women with spinal cord injury to improving sexual desire for both men and women as well as helpful hints for communication, managing fatigue and depression, ways to keep sexual desire and more.
Physiatrist Dr. Michelle Alpert’s clinical experience with patients’ own stories, “Spinal Cord Injury and the Family” is for individuals and their families who must climb back from injury: for the young quad couple, both quadriplegic, who wish to conceive and raise a child; for the paraplegic dad who wants to teach his daughter to drive. Dr. Alpert is the Director of Rehabilitation Medicine, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, and Clinical Instructor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School. She was the founder and first director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Model System maintains an extensive information network of spinal cord specific resources. The fact sheets offer quick references to basic spinal cord injury health information. Daily Living topics provide consumer education on Adjustment, Assistive Technology, Caregiving, Family & Relationships, Health Management, Home Modification, Leisure, Mobility, Nutrition, Sexuality, School, and Work. Additional Rehab Tip Sheets provide information on common activities, such as wheelchair positioning, assisted pressure relief, lift transfers, assisted transfers and bed positioning. SCI Health Education Videos are also available for a variety of secondary conditions.
“Spinal Cord Injury: a Guide for Living” is the definitive guide for people with a spinal cord injury and their families. Combining first-person accounts with up-to-date medical information, the book addresses all aspects of spinal cord injury – recovery and coping, sex and family matters, transportation and housing, employment and leisure – and reviews the challenges encountered by people with spinal cord injury throughout their lives.
Spinal Cord Injuries can affect the ability to function in many ways, including sexuality and intimacy. The way you feel about sex and the ability to have sex is very important, but is different for every person. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) created this consumer education sheet to answer the questions many have about sex after a spinal cord injury. Additional resources on sexuality and intimacy are available to the public from RIC through its patient and family education center, the LIFE (Learning, Innovation, Family, Empowerment) Center. Sexuality resources are found within the Support & Wellness section of the LIFE website.
“Spinal Network” is the essential resource for making important life choices after a spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, post-polio syndrome, amputation, ALS and other conditions. This information-packed book explores options in health, technology, attendant services, employment, travel, sports, relationships, sexuality and parenting. It explains–in clear language–the intricacies of legal rights, government benefits and cure research.
The United Spinal Association provides active-lifestyle, peer support, and advocacy information to encourage individuals to achieve their highest potential in all facets of life. The Association’s Spinal Cord Resource Center has a dedicated section on Family and Personal Relationships with consumer information articles on Dating after SCI, Parenting after SCI, Love and Marriage after SCI, and other relevant articles.
The United Spinal Association Resource Center provides a variety of consumer education sheets on reproductive health for women with spinal cord injury, including sexuality for women with spinal cord injury and pregnancy with and after spinal cord injury.
Karen developed a spinal cord injury at the age of 15. Despite the many challenges, Karen didn’t let her injury stop her from achieving her goals. She has since gone on to have a successful career as a pediatric social worker, is a passionate advocate for spinal cord injury care and is also a wife and mother of two young children. This is her story.
Published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, ‘Yes, You Can!,’ is designed for both the newly injured patient, and their family members. Written by experts in the field of spinal-cord injury, it is an extremely popular guide to subjects such as: self-care, sexuality, pain management, substance abuse, exercise, alternative medicine, adaptive equipment, and staying healthy.