Measurement of sexual functioning after spinal cord injury: Preferred instruments

Marcalee Sipski Alexander, Nancy L. Brackett, Donald Bodner, Stacy Elliott, Amie Jackson, Jens Sonksen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background/Objective: To determine the utility of certain instruments to assess sexuality and fertility after SCI, an expert panel identified key areas to study and evaluated available instruments. These were rated according to certain predefined criteria. Methods: The authors divided sexual issues into male and female sexual function, male reproductive function, and female reproductive function. The instruments that have been used most frequently to measure these aspects of sexual function over the past 5 years were identified by expert consensus. Finally, these instruments were subjected to a critical review. Results: The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), measurement of vaginal pulse amplitude (VPA), the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), and the measurement of ejaculatory function and semen quality were considered appropriate measures to assess sexual responses and reproductive function after SCI. There were no measures identified to assess female reproductive function. Conclusions: For clinical trials aiming to improve sexual function after SCI, the FSFI or the HEF is currently preferred. Although VPA is an appropriate means to assess female sexual responses, it is only useful for laboratory studies and is too invasive for use in clinical trials. For assessment of male fertility potential, assessment of ejaculatory capacity and semen analysis are recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-236
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Arousal
  • Disability
  • Ejaculation
  • Erection
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Fertility
  • Lubrication
  • Measurement
  • Orgasm
  • Paraplegia
  • Sexual function
  • Sexuality
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tetraplegia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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