Orgasm and SCI: what do we know?

Spinal Cord. 2018 Jun;56(6):538-547. doi: 10.1038/s41393-017-0020-8. Epub 2017 Dec 20.


Study design: narrative review OBJECTIVES: To determine the percentage of persons with SCI able to achieve orgasm and ejaculation, the associations between ejaculation and orgasm and the subjective and autonomic findings during these events, and the potential benefits with regards to spasticity.

Setting: Two American medical centers METHODS: Data bases were searched for the terms orgasm and SCI and ejaculation and SCI. Search criteria were human studies published in English from 1990 to 12/2/2016.

Results: Approximately 50% of sexually active men and women report orgasmic ability after SCI. There is a relative inability of persons with complete lower motor neuron injuries affecting the sacral segments to achieve orgasm. Time to orgasm is longer in persons with SCIs than able-bodied (AB) persons. With orgasm, elevated blood pressure (BP) occurs after SCI in a similar fashion to AB persons. With penile vibratory stimulation and electroejaculation, BP elevation is common and prophylaxis is recommended in persons with injuries at T6 and above. Dry orgasm occurs approximately 13% of times in males. Midodrine, vibratory stimulation, clitoral vacuum suction, and 4-aminopyridine may improve orgasmic potential.

Conclusions: Depending on level and severity of injury, persons with SCIs can achieve orgasm. Sympathetically mediated changes occur during sexual response with culmination at orgasm. Future research should address benefits of orgasm. Additionally, inherent biases associated with studying orgasm must be considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ejaculation* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Orgasm* / physiology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / etiology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*