Sexuality in women with traumatic spinal cord injury

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1997 Nov;76(10):977-83. doi: 10.3109/00016349709034913.


Background: Sexuality in spinal cord injured women has largely been neglected. One reason may be the male dominance amongst traumatically spinal cord injured individuals. The purpose of this study is to elucidate sexual issues in women with spinal cord injuries.

Methods: Survey of near-total prevalence population in the greater Stockholm area. Structured interview, based on a standardized questionnaire. Self-rating scales for evaluation of the importance of sexual activity before and after injury and for defining and rating the medical problem most significantly interfering with sexual activity. Marital status and/or partnership pre- and post-injury and information on sexual matters provided after injury were evaluated in detail. Out of a total 65 women, 62 participated in the study.

Result: Women with complete and incomplete cervical lesions rated the importance of sexual activity significantly lower after, as compared to before, spinal cord injury. No significant differences were found in women with lower-level lesions. Urinary leakage, spasticity and positioning problems were the medical problems most significantly interfering with partner-related sexual activity. Only six women had received information on sexual matters before discharge from hospital. None of the partners had received such information.

Conclusion: The women's neurological status affect their ability to adapt sexually after injury. Medical problems commonly interfere with sexuality and should be identified and treated. No adverse impact of spinal cord injury on marital status could be confirmed. Sexual counseling has yet to become an integral part of rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior* / psychology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology