Sexuality is an important element of a person’s life, which encompasses both emotional and physical types of intimacy . A spinal cord injury (SCI) will affect a person’s sexual health and this may lead to problems such as a decline in life satisfaction, quality of life (QoL), and self-perception . Amidst the top functions that a person with SCI strives to regain such as bladder and bowel functions, walking, arm/hand function, research has shown that sexual function was rated as either the first or second priority . It has also been shown that the outcome of their overall rehabilitation and the major motivation factor in life is influenced significantly by a successful sexual rehabilitation .
A common sexual problem that occurs in males with SCI is erectile dysfunction (ED) . ED is defined as the consistent or recurrent inability to attain and/or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual performance . The vast majority of men with complete and incomplete SCI require treatment for ED . Some treatments include sildenafil, intracavernous injections of papverine/alprostadil (Caverject), alprostadil/papaverine/phentolamine (“Triple Mix”), transurethral suppository (MUSE), surgically implanted prosthetic device (PPS) and vacuum erection devices (VED) . Some other problems include impaired ejaculation and orgasmic perception .
Given the large ratio of male to female in persons with SCI, there is a relative lack of literature on sexuality in women with SCI [9-11]. This may also be partly due to the misconception that women are not as interested in sexual activity, and that their physiological sexual response is less affected by disability compared to men . Most of the studies on sexual dysfunction in women with SCI are focused on fertility, pregnancy, menstruation, and childbirth [12-14]. For women, problems include positioning during foreplay and intercourse, vaginal lubrication, and spasticity during intercourse . As well, problems with becoming psychologically aroused have been listed as a problem for women with SCI .