Sex Part Seven: Answers to the Questions I Had When I Was Newly Injured
Welcome back to the final blog on sex after spinal cord injury (SCI). I am very happy that you joined me for this entire series. As I mentioned in the first part of this series, I will now share some final tips to help you.
Tips and advice for your sex life
- When you engage in sexual activity after an SCI, it is very similar to experiencing sexual activity for the first time again. Differences in sensation, mobility, and sexual function create a new experience that requires learning what feels and works best. So, try not to put too much pressure on the experience. Live in the moment without focusing on what sexual intimacy was like before your SCI. Be open-minded and allow yourself to experiment.
- Honestly, experimentation and open-mindedness are your best friends, and they will thoroughly enhance your sex life after an SCI.
- Make sure that you have an open dialogue about sex, experimentation, fantasies, and your emotions regarding sexual intimacy with your partner. Having this open communication will help improve your sexually intimate moments.
- Additionally, if you are in a relationship when you are newly injured, involving your partner in the sexual rehabilitation process is essential.
- When you have recently sustained an SCI, you begin to experience many different sensations. You learn a lot about how your body now functions, and you need to take the time to understand how your body now talks to you. Although many of us lose physical sensation, our bodies adapt and learn to tell us when something is not right or pleasurable. In many cases, our brains still interpret our bodies messages and tell us when we need to urinate, have a bowel movement, do not feel well, are too hot/cold, etc. However, in the first year or two, our bodily sensations and reflexive abilities change, and it takes a while for us to fully understand our bodies again. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to understand and get comfortable with your body now. Give your body time to heal, and do not become discouraged if you have difficulties with erections or vaginal reflexes, especially in the first couple of years.
- For me, sexual intimacy has gotten better and better the longer I have had an SCI because I now really understand what my body is saying to me. I am not saying that you need to wait years before becoming sexually intimate with someone after your injury. However, it is essential to have a partner who is understanding and open to helping you learn about your body.
- Do not get discouraged by a few mediocre sexual interactions when you begin exploring sex after an SCI.
- Do not be afraid of masturbation. I know some may have difficulties with masturbation, depending on their level of SCI. However, if you are interested in trying, you may always ask your occupational therapist for help to figure out how you may masturbate when you have a higher-level SCI. Just as it may be when you are non-disabled, masturbation may be an excellent way to build sexual confidence and figure out what feels good to you sexually after sustaining an SCI.
- It is beneficial for your sex life to explore all areas of your body and utilize various senses to rediscover your body and learn which areas are most sensual and satisfying. After an SCI, several parts of your body may become sexually pleasurable.
- For example, my neck and nipples have become even more sensitive and pleasurable during sexual intimacy since my injury. Also, although I cannot feel my legs anymore, watching my partner kiss or rub my inner thighs is extremely arousing and pleasurable for me.
- Therefore, combining sight with imagination and behaviour may be incredibly pleasurable for you, even in areas you cannot feel.
- If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, do not become discouraged. Typically, 80% of those who have male genitalia regain an amount of erectile function by two years after an SCI. Additionally, there are many different techniques to assist you in getting an erection. If you are interested in learning about these techniques, it is important that you discuss different options with your doctor or occupational therapist. Although having a fear of bringing up this topic with your healthcare provider is valid, you do not need to be afraid. There is no shame in erectile dysfunction, and it is more common than you think in all who have male genitalia.
I am excited that you joined me for this series on sex after SCI. I hope you learned a lot, had your questions answered, and feel more prepared to engage in sexual activity as someone with an SCI. I have loved writing this blog series and feel blessed to support my community in having happy and healthy sex lives after SCI. Happy humping!