The impact of spinal cord injury on sexual function: Concerns of the general population

K. D. Anderson, J. F. Borisoff, R. D. Johnson, S. A. Stiens, S. L. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Study Design: Secure, web-based survey. Objectives: Obtain information from the spinal cord injured (SCI) population regarding sexual dysfunctions, with the aim of developing new basic science and clinical research and eventual therapies targeting these issues. Setting: Worldwide web. Methods: Individuals 18 years or older living with SCI. Participants obtained a pass-code to enter a secure website and answered survey questions. A total of 286 subjects completed the survey. Results: The majority of participants stated that their SCI altered their sexual sense of self and that improving their sexual function would improve their quality of life (QoL). The primary reason for pursuing sexual activity was for intimacy need, not fertility. Bladder and bowel concerns during sexual activity were not strong enough to deter the majority of the population from engaging in sexual activity. However, in the subset of individuals concerned about bladder and/or bowel incontinence during sexual activity, this was a highly significant issue. In addition, the occurrence of autonomic dysreflexia (AD) during typical bladder or bowel care was a significant variable predicting the occurrence and distress of AD during sexual activity. Conclusion: Sexual function and its resultant impact on QoL is a major issue to an overwhelming majority of people living with SCI. This certainly constitutes the need for expanding research in multiple aspects to develop future therapeutic interventions for sexual health and SCI. Sponsorship: Christopher Reeve Foundation (#36708, KDA); Reeve-Irvine Research Center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-337
Number of pages10
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomic dysreflexia
  • Bladder and bowel
  • Complications
  • Quality of life
  • Sexual function
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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