1. Sexual satisfaction is reportedly lower in both men and women after SCI (Alexander et al. 1993; Fisher et al. 2002; Reitz et al. 2004; Kennedy et al. 2006; Sharma et al. 2006; Mendes et al. 2008).
2. In an exploratory study of comparing African-American men and women with SCI, authors found that the women reported greater satisfaction with their sex lives than the men (Krause et al. 2004).
3. A comparison study of women with and without SCI, found that married women with SCI are as sexually satisfied as their able-bodied counterparts (Black et al. 1998).
4. In a study involving South Asian women with SCI, the women reported lack of sexual satisfaction more often than the men (Sharma et al. 2006). Conversely, in a survey study of Italian men and women with SCI, men reported significantly lesser satisfaction with sexual life post-injury than women (Sale et al. 2012).
5. Moreno et al. (1995) included sexual parameters in their report of outcome of continent urinary diversion with a catheterizable umbilical stoma in women with tetraplegia (n=3). They found that sexual satisfaction improved in the 2 women who were sexually active and body image improved in all 3 women
Research shows that sexual function is important to people after SCI. A systematic review of 24 studies of health and life priorities for persons with SCI determined that motor function, bowel, bladder and sexual function emerged as the top four functional recovery priorities (Simpson et al. 2012). Two individual studies using community samples showed that the most common significant problem for people with SCI was sexual dysfunction (reported at 41% – New 2016; and 60.8% Park et al. 2016).
Despite the importance of sexual adjustment to overall quality of life, there have been few studies addressing this topic and few investigating the effectiveness of interventions on sexual satisfaction and adjustment to SCI. A number of studies have reported that the frequency of sexual activity and desire for sexual activity decreases after injury in both men and women (Julia & Othman 2011; Kreuter et al. 2011). The issues that are perceived to affect sexual satisfaction and/or sexual activity are multi-faceted. However, common barriers to sexual satisfaction from the effects of SCI include bladder and bowel problems, as well as other impairments resulting from the severity of injury (e.g., spasticity, lack of mobility) (Biering-Sorensen et al. 2012; Moreno et al. 1995; Anderson et al. 2007). Researchers suggest that improving sexual satisfaction, information and specific programs during rehabilitation can help women with SCI explore and investigate new erotic possibilities, thereby improving their self-esteem and social relationships (Otero-Villaverde et al. 2015).
Sexual dysfunction following SCI may take many forms, including: decreased sexual desire, lack of confidence, dissatisfaction with sexual foreplay or intercourse, frustration with partner’s sexual satisfaction, inability to obtain or maintain a full erection or to achieve orgasm, and problems with ejaculatory control.
Common barriers to sexual satisfaction include bladder and bowel problems, as well as other SCI-related impairments (e.g., spasticity, lack of mobility).
Continent urinary diversion in women with tetraplegia may result in improved self-image, quality of life, and greater sexual satisfaction.