The Effects of Spinal Cord Injury on Psychogenic Sexual Arousal in Males

Marcalee Sipski, Craig Alexander, Orlando Gómez-Marín, Joshua Spalding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Purpose: We determined if the degree of preservation of sensory function in the T11-L2 dermatomes could be used to determine the potential for psychogenic erectile responses in men with spinal cord injury. Materials and Methods: Subjects included 45 men with spinal cord injury and 16 able-bodied control subjects. A 78-minute laboratory based analysis was done of subject subjective arousal, penile circumference, blood pressure, and heart rate responses to audiovisual erotic and audiovisual erotic combined with manual penile stimulation. Results: Able-bodied subjects generally had significantly greater penile circumferences than spinal cord injured subjects during the stimulation periods. The degree of preservation of combined pinprick and light touch sensation in the T11-L2 dermatomes distinguished those who did and did not have a significant increase in penile circumference with audiovisual stimulation. Blood pressure and heart rate readings were generally higher in able-bodied than spinal cord injured subjects throughout the experimental protocol. However, all readings were within normal limits. Conclusions: Results support the hypothesis that psychogenic erection depends on the sympathetic nervous system. Findings underscore a possible parallel in neurological control of sexual responses between the sexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-251
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • motor neurons
  • penile erection
  • penis
  • spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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