Men are more likely than women to suffer fertility problems after a spinal injury. Most people erroneously believe that a person becomes sexually inactive after a spinal cord injury. This belief has led to a lot of misinformation and lack of knowledge about how a spinal injury can affect sexuality and fertility.
Studies suggest that sexually mature men are more commonly affected by spinal cord which has raised the question of how a spinal cord injury can affect a man’s sexual function. A commonly affected fact is that sperm quality and quantity is most likely to be affected after a spinal cord injury and then only 1% of men who suffer such injuries go on to father children through conventional means. But this doesn’t mean that only 1% of men with spinal cord injuries can father children. This post by International Andrology London talks about spinal injuries and sexual/fertile life after.
How Normal Sexual Function Can Be Affected by Spinal Injuries
Sexual function in men can be affected when certain areas of the spine is affected. If the T10 –L2 area is damages, the man may lose the ability to ejaculate and damage to the S2-S4 section of the spine can affect the quality and quantity of semen produced. Damage to several other sections of the spine can also affect the ability to have and maintain an erection. If these areas are significantly affected, it may be very difficult for the man to father children through conventional means.
But there are solutions in techniques and methods designed to assist in ejaculation. Certain methods like vibratory stimulation can cause ejaculations from which a woman can be artificially inseminated. Couples can learn these methods which eliminates the need to make this process a public one at the doctor’s office rather than a private affair.
But fertility is a problem that cannot easily be quantified and most men with spinal cord injury may not be able to know if their fertility has been affected unless they undergo certain tests. You can determine if you are still fertile based on the area of the spinal cord that is affected even though this may not be enough. It may be necessary for doctors to obtain a sample of your semen for analysis to determine if the ejaculate is appropriate and capable for impregnation.
If you are concerned about fertility the best thing to do is talk to your doctor and determine the best options for you. There are several techniques that can be used to help you have children even after a spinal injury although the severity of the injury may be a factor.
Lack of information on this issue has often resulted in a taboo-like silence and stigma when it comes to the spinal cord injuries and sexual function. Having the right information can mean the difference between being able to father children even with a spinal injury or not. It is important to discuss your concerns and anxieties with your doctors and realize that a solution that may work for one person, may not work for you.