Thanks to depictions of quadriplegic and paraplegic sex lives on scripted shows such as Friday Night Lights and reality series Push Girls, the general public is more educated than ever before about the effect spinal cord injuries (SCI) have on intimate relations. But there are still popular misconceptions and myths in need of a good debunking, hence this list of paraplegic sex facts and quadriplegic sex facts.
There are facts about the sex lives of paraplegics and quadriplegics a lot of people just never think about. Dealing with incontinence and catheters in the bedroom, for example, is not something you see in popular depictions of life with SCI. The intimate mechanics of paraplegic and quadriplegic sex aren’t well-known, either. Read on for 10 facts about SCI sex that Hollywood, and pop culture in general, rarely – if ever – mentions.
Yes, Orgasms Are Still Possible
The “Stuffing” Technique, Just What It Sounds Like
Sensitivity in Less Traditional Erogenous Zones Can Be Heightened
Angela Rockwood, from Sundance Channel documentary series Push Girls, confirms this: “You gotta think of sensation. For quadriplegics, the breast up is very heightened and sensitive, so I like a lot of kissing around the neck.”
Fellow Push Girl Auti Angel agrees: “It’s like when people become visually impaired and their smells and other senses become heightened. It’s like that with us – we just lost sensation in a different area.”
Special Sex Furniture Is Available
The chair works by translating the movement of your upper torso into a swinging motion, sort of like a glider. As the slightly-NSFW video shows, you can also splurge for the IntimateRider Romance Set ($515), which omes with an IntimateRider-compatible cot called the RiderMate for your partner.
Men with Spinal Cord Injuries Can Wear Catheters During Intercourse
Experts say men with spinal cord injuries can wear catheters during intercourse, but there are a few caveats. The catheter needs to be anchored, using tape or a condom, but only when/if an erection is achieved. Extra lubrication may also be required with this set-up.
Paralyzed women needn’t worry, as experts at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation wryly note: “[Catheters] can be left in during sexual intercourse because, unknown to many men and even women, the urethra (urinary opening) is separate from the vagina.”
It is advised, however, that women tape the catheter tube to their thigh.
Urinary and Fecal Incontinence Can Be a Problem
Urinary or fecal incontinence brought on by sexual stimulation is cited as a “major fear” of many people with SCI. Experts recommend having towels handy, limiting fluid intake, keeping to a “careful” diet, and gentle thrusting. Communication between couples, however, is considered the most important means of preventing embarrassment or humiliation.
As with Erections, Natural Vaginal Lubrication Can Be Achieved
Female SCI patients with “incomplete” injuries (only partial damage to the spinal cord) are more likely to achieve vaginal lubrication, much like male SCI patients and erections. Experts recommend water-soluble lubricant if natural lubrication cannot be achieved.
Penile Implants Are a ‘Last Resort’
A popular “last resort” method is a penile implant, which is considered to be a highly effective means of restoring, somewhat, former sexual functions. There are two types: a “bendable” implant that consists of two plastic rods placed in the erection chambers of the penis, and an “inflatable” implant, which fills surgically implanted chambers in the penis with saline, on-demand.
The bendable type has one major downside: it gives you a permanent erection. This, experts note, “can be embarrassing at a gym, the beach or when wearing tight clothing.”
“Electroejaculation,” an Impregnation Option
There are, however, techniques to help assist impregnation. These include manual stimulation, “penile vibratory stimulation,” or, the “least preferred” but most effective: “electrojejaculation.” This involvesinserting a probe into the rectum and applying a current so “an erection, potentially followed by ejaculation, is produced.”
Viagra May Help Men and Women with SCI
Interestingly, women with SCI can also use Viagra to increase vaginal lubrication and help treat sexual dysfunction. This application, however, is considered to be of “limited value.” A study conducted in 2000, for example, showed Viagra may “partially reverse” sexual dysfunction in women with SCI, but the effects “were most evident under conditions of optimal stimulation.”