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Erection From Spinal Injury And Its Impact To A Man's Sexuality


Erection from spinal injury can have profound effects on a person’s quality of life including fertility and sexual function. In terms of self-image and interpersonal relationships, sexuality is an important part of a person's identity.

Because of physical function, sensation, and/or response to stimulation, the majority of men with a spinal injury experience changes in erection, fertility, and sexual function.

In this article, we will cover three types of erections and the effects of spinal injury on a man's sexual function.

Men's Sexual Function After Spinal Cord Injury

A man smiling while sitting othe wheelchair
A man smiling while sitting othe wheelchair

COPYRIGHT_SPINE: Published on https://spinal-injury.net/erection-from-spinal-injury/ by Dr. Bill Butcher on 2022-09-28T04:11:05.985Z

A spinal cord injury affects many different parts of the body. This is especially true for body parts that are at or below the injury level. A spinal injury can affect how your bladder and bowel work.

Your sexual function has most likely been altered as a result of your spinal injury. This can be altered in terms of sensation, or the ability to achieve or maintain an erection. One of the first thoughts that many men have is whether or not they have an erection.

Fears about changes in sexual function after a spinal cord injury fade as you become more at ease with your body. The more aware you are of your sexuality, the more satisfied your partner will be.

You and your partner may discover that you and your partner prefer different aspects of sexuality. Other aspects of sexuality may be more important than the physical act of sex.

A couple sitting on the wheelchair side by side
A couple sitting on the wheelchair side by side

Erection From Spinal Injury Explained

Erections are caused by both nerve stimulation (touch) and a vascular (blood flow) response. Sexual function changes are determined by the level of injury and whether the injury is complete or incomplete.

Because each person's function will be affected differently, it is critical to understand the fundamentals of how erections occur. There are three types of erections and how Spinal Injury affects them. These are the following:


It is also referred to as a reflex or spontaneous erection. Physical touch or stimulation of your penis or genitals causes this type of erection. This response can be elicited by stroking, touching, or caressing the penis. Nerves in the lower part of the spinal cord control the ability to get a reflex erection.

When changing their catheter, cleaning their genitals, or even pulling clothes or blankets over their bodies, some men with spinal cord injury may experience an erection. Even if it was not intended, this stimulation to the penis may result in an erection. Reflex erections can be brief and occur at inconvenient times.


This type of erection can be triggered by arousing sights, sounds, or thoughts. Having an erection simply by thinking about something sexy may not work for many men after a spinal cord injury. When a spinal cord injury is severe enough, the message from your brain is unable to pass through the damaged part of your spinal cord.

The penis often grows longer and fuller in men who can get a psychogenic erection, but it may not be rigid enough for intercourse. Take note of what causes you to have an erection.


If you've ever woken up with an erection in the middle of the night or early in the morning without being stimulated, you've had a spontaneous erection. These can happen while you're sleeping or when your bladder is full.

Some men who have suffered a spinal cord injury may still experience spontaneous erections at night and/or in the morning. The duration of the erection will help you determine its usefulness for sexual activity.

People Also Ask

Will I Be Able To Ejaculate After Having Spinal Cord Injury?

SCI affects ejaculation, as it does many other functions. Ejaculation is a more complicated process than erection. Ejaculations are uncommon in men with complete spinal cord injury. Because the spinal cord injury prevents the bladder neck from closing, sperm enters the bladder rather than exiting the penis.

Will I Have Orgasms After Having Spinal Cord Injury?

Although your specific ability to have an orgasm after SCI is unknown, many people report having some form of orgasm after their injury. Many parts of your body can feel good and provide a pleasurable sexual response.

These areas of the body are known as erogenous zones, and they are not limited to the genital area. Making use of all of your senses can also be beneficial. Try experimenting with all of your senses instead of focusing on what the penis can and cannot do.

What Are The Risk Factors Of Having Intercourse With Spinal Cord Injury?

You are at risk of developing Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD), which is a rise in blood pressure caused by a stimulus below your level of injury. If you have an injury, you are at risk. If you experience AD symptoms while having sex, stop immediately. Place yourself in a seated position. Make sure you've also taken off any restrictive clothing, binders, or compression hoses.


Sexual function affects a person's quality of life, and erection from Spinal Injury has an impact on it. Sexual function and satisfaction can be significantly impacted by spinal injury. Discuss your health options with your healthcare provider in order to create a plan and recommended solution that is right for you.

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About The Authors

Dr. Bill Butcher

Dr. Bill Butcher - With more than two decades of experience, Dr. Bill Butcher aims to provide a repository for educational materials, sources of information, details of forthcoming events, and original articles related to the medical field and about health subjects that matter to you. His goal is to help make your life better, to help you find your way when faced with healthcare decisions, and to help you feel better about your health and that of your family. Bill received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and spent his entire career helping people find the health and medical information, support, and services they need. His mission is to help millions of people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health.

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