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).