Reproductive health of men with spinal cord injury

Varsha Sinha, Stacy Elliott, Emad Ibrahim, Charles M. Lynne, Nancy L. Brackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Most men with spinal cord injury (SCI) are infertile due to a combination of erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory dysfunction, and abnormal semen quality. This article addresses issues that should be considered when managing the reproductive health of men with SCI. The authors present recommendations based on their decades of experience in managing the reproductive health of more than 1,000 men with SCI. Men with SCI face obstacles when pursuing sexual activity and/or biologic fatherhood. Hypogonadism and premature symptoms of aging may interfere with sexual function. Erectile dysfunction is prevalent in the SCI population, and treatments for erectile dysfunction in the general population are also effective in the SCI population. Most men with SCI cannot ejaculate with sexual intercourse. The procedures of penile vibratory stimulation (PVS) and/or electroejaculation (EEJ) are effective in obtaining an ejaculate from 97% of men with SCI. The ejaculate often contains sufficient total motile sperm to consider the assisted conception procedures of intrauterine insemination or even intravaginal insemination at home. If PVS and/or EEJ fail, sperm may be retrieved surgically from the testis or epididymis. Surgical sperm retrieval typically yields enough motile sperm only for in vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The majority of new cases of SCI occur in young men at the peak of their reproductive health. With proper medical management, these men can expect to experience active sexual lives and biologic fatherhood, if these are their goals. Numerous tools are available to physicians for helping these patients reach their goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalTopics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Ejaculation
  • Electroejaculation
  • Erection
  • Fertility
  • Infertility
  • Penile Vibratory Stimulation
  • Semen
  • Sperm
  • Spinal Cord Injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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