Sex and SCI Part Five: Answers to the Questions I Had When I Was Newly Injured
Welcome back to this series on sex after spinal cord injury (SCI). I am pleased to have you join me again for part five of this series. As I mentioned in the first part of this series, I will now discuss information about lubrication and orgasm during sexual intimacy.
For those of us who have female genitalia, typically, our vaginas will become wet as we begin to engage in sexual intimacy with ourselves (masturbation) or with our partners. Regardless of whether someone has nerve damage or not, we all have differences in how much lubrication our vaginas create.
However, after sustaining an SCI, your vagina may produce less lubrication than it did before, or it may take longer to produce lubrication. It is important to know that you can always purchase and use different vaginal lubricant products to help you lubricate yourself.
Water-based or silicone lubricants are both safe to use with condoms, so either of these is your best choice. However, if you use an indwelling catheter, it is essential to use water-based lubricants because other lubricants may damage your catheter. Water-based lubricants work well and taste sweet, but they have the potential to cause vaginal yeast infections. Therefore, it is important to wipe your vaginal area or ask your partner to do so after engaging in sexual activity involving genital stimulation. You may also ask your caregiver. I know you may feel nervous about asking your partner to help wipe your genitals off after sexual intimacy. However, after they finish wiping themselves off, I usually ask my partner, which does not seem to faze them. Personally, I do not think it should bother your partner, and if it does, they may not be the best partner to be engaging in sexual activity with. In my experience, partners seem more uncomfortable with your caregiver coming in right after to wipe you down and would prefer to help wipe your genitals down themselves. Silicone lubricants work well and last longer. However, they do not taste good. Additionally, although condom-friendly, they should not be used with silicone sex toys because they may damage them. While silicone lubricants do not typically cause yeast infections, you should still wipe your vaginal region or ask someone to help you do so after engaging in sexual intimacy involving your genitals. Doing this will keep you clean and reduce the likelihood of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Lastly, oil-based lubricants should not be used for vaginal lubrication because they can damage and reduce the effectiveness of latex condoms and cause bacterial vaginal infections and UTIs. However, they are an excellent lubrication tool for sensual touching or massage on other body parts, and their scent is often delightful. Additionally, they are a good lubricant for masturbation or hand jobs on those who have male genitalia.
Many medical professionals will tell you that you may no longer be able to orgasm after an SCI due to your changes in sensation. This statement is not well established in research. You may still reach orgasm after an SCI. However, there may be slight changes in how you orgasm.
In the case of those who have male genitalia, you may still be able to experience orgasm. Although the quality of orgasm may be different. Approximately 50% of those who have male genitalia can experience orgasm after an SCI. Furthermore, you can still reach orgasm even if you are not capable of ejaculating.
In the case of those who have female genitalia, you may also be capable of having an orgasm after sustaining an SCI. Research finds that approximately 50% of individuals with female genitalia, who have an SCI, may still reach orgasm. While the quality of your orgasm will not be affected, you will often take longer to experience an orgasm than you did before your SCI.
Additionally, applying vibrators or other sex toys to your erogenous zones may assist you in achieving an orgasm regardless of injury level and sexual identity (e.g., female, male, or intersex).
In my experience, raising your pelvis, using a lot of lubrication, incorporating vibrating sex toys, sight, sounds, dirty talk, and stimulation of other erogenous zones helps a lot with reaching orgasm.
I would love for you to read the next part of this blog series on sex, where I will provide you with important information about contraceptive use after an SCI.