Can Paralyzed People Have Sex?

There is no denying the fact that sexual identity is an important aspect of your personality – it has a role to play in how you relate to others, how you feel about yourself, and how others relate to you. So many issues can affect your sexuality, and one such problem is paralysis. People who are paralyzed often have to live with changed sexuality, as there might be changes in physical functioning, response, and sensation. 

Can Paralyzed People Have Sex?

Many factors come into play here, but the simple answer is, "yes, paralyzed people can be intimate and enjoy sexual activities like normal people do." There are some exceptions too, as some people may lose feelings down there. However, when some people lose sensitivity in one area, they become more sensitive in other zones. Moreover, studies show that nerves associated with sexual feelings bypass the spinal cord, which explains why someone with paralysis can still enjoy sex.

How Will Sex Be Affected After Paralysis?

While people can still enjoy their sex lives after paralysis, there is often an impact on how they cope things. Some people have to live with compromised feelings and fertility. Can paralyzed people have sex? Here's more to answer this.

Effect on Men

Paralysis can affect a man's sexual performance in different ways. Some would find it difficult to get and maintain an erection, while others will find it difficult to ejaculate sperm. Those who can get an erection usually find it difficult to make it last long enough for sex. This problem is called erectile dysfunction (ED), which can affect men who are not paralyzed. You can find many different products, such as shots, pellets, pills, and implants to treat erectile dysfunction; however, a paralyzed person may find it difficult to use some of those products.

To get a better idea, it is important to understand more about the types of erection. For instance:

  • A reflex erection: You get it when something touches your penis or another body part.
  • A psychogenic erection: You get it when you have sexual thoughts or look at sexual images.

The reflex erection is controlled by the nerves located at the base of your spine, which is the reason why you can still get this type of erection even when you have paralysis. However, you may not be able to achieve a psychogenic erection because the nerves that control it are higher up the spine. Can paralyzed people have sex? Yes, they can because they can achieve a reflex erection. How long they can maintain it may still be a concern.

Effect on Women

Women with paralysis usually do not lose their sex drive or fertility. Some women may experience a slight reduction in libido because they become more concerned about their body image. If you are paralyzed, you may notice your vagina does not become lubricated when you are sexually aroused. This is mainly because the nerves handling this process are no longer active. The use of an artificial lubricant, such as KY jelly may help resolve the issue.

Most women with paralysis can become pregnant and deliver normally. Some women may have a spinal cord injury at T6 or higher, which is why they are more likely to develop autonomic dysreflexia. So, be sure to identify your symptoms and talk to your doctor for a treatment plan.

Living with Paralysis

You already know the answer to, "Can paralyzed people have sex?" However, being able to have sex is not the only concern people with paralysis have, but several other issues need attention too. For instance, many paralyzed people have to deal with pressure ulcers.

To Prevent Pressure Ulcers

You develop pressure ulcers when continuous pressure affects the blood supply to a specific part of your body. With limited blood circulation, it is impossible for tissue to stay healthy. There will be serious damage to tissue and they eventually die. You are more likely to develop these sores when you are unable to move your body regularly enough.

Here are some suggestions to help you cope with your condition.

  • Be sure to change your position regularly to prevent pressure ulcers. People on wheelchairs should change their position every 15-30 minutes. Those in bed should change their position at least once every couple of hours.
  • Ask someone to change your position regularly if you cannot move your body on your own. This will help prevent pressure ulcers. You can also use special mattresses, cushions, and other pressure-relieving devices when you cannot move your body or limbs.
  • Pay attention to keeping your skin in the affected area dry and clean all the time. Wet skin can easily be damaged with pressure. Be sure to check your skin regularly for ulcers and other problems. Talk to your doctor if you develop ulcers or have an area of red skin that feels spongy and warm.

Exercise Is Essential

One way to improve your overall health is to stay as active as you can. Regular exercise will help improve your fitness even if you are paralyzed. This keeps you from dealing with serious complications. At the same time, exercise helps improve bowel and bladder function. Moreover, you can exercise to maintain strength in your affected limbs.

It is important to work with a physiotherapist, especially during the first few weeks of your spinal injury. Your therapist will explain what activities you can do and how you can stay active. Some of their recommended exercises may include weightlifting, wheelchair basketball, horse riding, hand cycling, and wheelchair tennis.

In severe cases, people cannot perform any voluntary exercise. If that is the case, your physiotherapist may recommend functional electrical stimulation (FES), which involves using electrodes to deliver current to your muscles in the arms and legs. This helps stimulate movement and accelerates recovery as well.

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