How does multiple trauma, traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury (SCI) affect male sexual functioning?
- Publisher: Centre for Trauma Sciences
Sex is an important part of life for many people, therefore dealing with erectile problems, living with the effects of physical injury, changes in your appearance or side-effects of treatment can have an enormous impact on your sex life and relationships. Normal sexual behaviour and erectile function depends on a complex interaction between various body-systems, including the brain, nerves, blood-supply and hormones. All of these systems (alone or in combination) may be affected following multiple trauma, traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury (SCI). For men, trauma may result in problems with achieving or maintaining erections (commonly referred to as erectile dysfunction; ED), problems with ejaculation, or how they think/feel about sex - all of these problems may have an indirect, if not profound impact on long-term functional recovery and overall quality of life. Following multiple trauma, spinal injury, or TBI, it is not unusual for some men to go through a period of reduced sexual drive (reduced libido). Apart from physical effects of injury, the way the body responds sexually also depends on thoughts and feelings – thoughts and feelings about yourself and others may be influenced by changes in mood, motivation, personality and thought-processes. This may be complicated by depression, emotional trauma following the injury, medication, or changes in hormone levels. As some men grapple with the changes and implications associated with their injury, many may initially ignore the importance of sexual difficulties, as they remain focused on physical rehabilitation and recovery of mobility. Other men may be reluctant to acknowledge sexual difficulties, due to cultural or personal reasons. There are a wide range of treatments and interventions that may be helpful for the man and his partner, which is why assessment of sexual function should be routinely incorporated into rehabilitation and follow-up services for trauma-survivors. The information below describes common sexual problems after TBI, SCI or multiple trauma and ways to improve sexual functioning.
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