In our last post, we shared 5 videos that covered a wide range of topics on what it’s like to have sex with a disability. This blog is about what it takes to have a fulfilling, healthy sex life with a spinal cord injury.
Empty Your Bladder and Bowels First
A full bladder or bowel can lead to accidents – or worse, autonomic dysreflexia. Nobody wants that. It’s important to make sure your bladder and bowels are empty before you get too hot and heavy. Depending on your catheter, you may need to remove it or tape it so it’s not in the way. If you do remove it, remember not to leave it out for too long. You don’t want urine to build up in your bladder.
As for your bowels, try to have sex just after you’ve performed your regular bowel program. It may not be as spontaneous as you’d like, but it beats having an accident.
Choose a Great Partner
This one’s much easier said than done. Finding or keeping a mate is one of the most common concerns people have after having a spinal cord injury.
Without a doubt, it takes an open-minded partner to see that sex with someone with an SCI can be just as fulfilling as sex with someone able-bodied. Fortunately, there are many examples of happy, healthy (and sexually satisfied) people with an SCI who found the right partner. The internet opens up a whole new world for those dealing with confidence issues and having trouble dating offline. It may not be easy, but it is possible.
Communication is crucial for any sexual relationship. It’s even more important when one partner has a spinal cord injury. It’s the only way to find out what’s working and what isn’t. The communication should start before you get in between the sheets and should continue while you’re intimate and after you’re done.
In addition to talking about the mechanics of sex (positions, sensations, etc.), you should also talk about your concerns and fears. Are you worried about having a urinary or bowel accident? Concerned about not being able to please your partner? Talk about this before things start to heat up so they won’t be lingering in the back of your mind while you’re being intimate.
You may have limited or no sensation in your sexual organs, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t experience pleasure in other parts of your body. In fact, studies have shown that the part of the brain associated with sensual pleasure bypasses the spinal cord and that it is possible to experience orgasm after a spinal cord injury.
You may find that previously non-erogenous areas, like your hands, have developed increased sensitivity. Again, this is where communication comes in. Spend time exploring your body with your partner and talking openly about the sensations that you’re feeling. It’s all about finding what feels good for you.
Try Out Some Assistive Aids
Assistive aids can help make up for limited sexual functionality after a spinal cord injury. For erectile dysfunction, many men use pills like Viagra or Cialis. There are also vibrators, vacuum pumps and injections that can help men achieve an erection.
Equipment like The Intimate Rider and the Liberator make it possible to try more positions and improve mobility. And that helps to keep things spicy in the bedroom.
Now that you’ve got these tips, queue up some Marvin Gaye, light a few candles and get it on! Happy lovemaking!