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Sex after SCI – Q&A with our specialist nurses

For many, sex and intimacy are crucial to living a fulfilled life after a spinal cord injury

Too often, there can be a stigma around talking about sex after SCI – spinal centres do provide educational opportunities for newly injured people to learn about sex after SCI, but those rehabilitating in general hospitals may not get that chance.

Sex may not be the first thing on your mind when you become spinal cord injured but when you do consider it there are often many questions to be asked. Our nurse specialists have put together a collection of the most common questions asked about sex after SCI.  See our other blogs for separate questions particulary relevant to men or women.

Will I be able to satisfy a sexual partner?

There’s no reason why not! Remember there’s a lot more to a sexual relationship than intercourse. Foreplay, cuddling, caressing and everything else plays a part too. Often, it’s about changing your mindset – it’s not just a physical act, it’s an emotional one too and understanding how you and your partner feels, will help enhance the physical aspect. Perceptions of what you enjoyed before might be a little different now. In a similar way, exploring other ways to be intimate with your partner and finding what turns them on can be very fulfilling.

How can I help prevent bladder and bowel accidents?

Accidents are very rare. Having a good routine with your bladder and bowels and understanding how your body reacts and what might trigger them to empty really helps.  Try to make sure your bladder is empty before having sex and likewise, knowing your bowels have been well managed offers confidence and reassurance.

Talk with your partner so they’re aware of your body’s reactions. It’s good to have that conversation in the first place, so that if it does happen, everyone’s prepared and it’s not a big shock.

If it’s playing on your mind, be prepared and have a towel or mattress protector on the bed in case of any accidents but if you’ve got good management of your bowel and bladder, you should be just fine.

If you’ve got any queries about sex with an in-dwelling catheter, please get in touch as there’s advice we can give on minimising the risks of any damage.

Where can I find further information?

The SCI Powder Room on Facebook. This is a female-only, private group covering personal, sensitive and female-related topics.

Sex and the Spine – easily accessible and trusted resources on sexual well-being from professional experts.

Spokz – Online shop offering products aimed at enhancing sexual wellbeing for disabled people

Sexual Health and Disability Alliance (SHADA) are involved in the positive promotion of sex for disabled people. This link provides a list of numerous sex-related resources