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Prog Brain Res. 2006;152:427-39.

Male fertility and sexual function after spinal cord injury.

Author information

1
Victorian Spinal Cord Service, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Vic., Australia. DouglasJ.Brown@austin.org.au

Abstract

Spinal cord injury has an enormous impact upon the sexual relationship of a man and his partner. Erection may be partial or absent, orgasm altered or impossible, and fertility severely impaired. New understanding of the physiology of sexual function and improved treatment can enable most cord-injured men to achieve erections suitable for sexual satisfaction. Modern methods of sperm collection and fertility treatment mean that many can also be fathers. The best results are obtained by a team approach involving rehabilitation and reproductive medicine clinicians, nurses, spinal cord injury specialists and counselors with the cord-injured man and his partner. Erections can be achieved by drugs, such as sildenafil, that block phosphodiesterase 5, prolonging the action of nitric oxide with resultant smooth muscle relaxation. Intracavernosal prostaglandin E1 and mechanical systems, such as vacuum pumps and constriction rings, are also effective. Sexual gratification can be promoted in the context of an understanding relationship in which the cord-injured person can gain pleasure from pleasing his partner and also from his partner's exploration of erotogenic areas not affected by the spinal cord injury. An emphasis on the broader view of sexuality in relationships allows for a continuance and strengthening of bonds between the couple. Vibration ejaculation or electroejaculation can be used to collect semen. For a limited period in the acute phase, usually for about 6-12 days after injury, normal semen can be obtained by electroejaculation from some cord-injured men. With chronic spinal cord injury the semen is of variable quality. Some patients have necrospermia, which may be improved by regular ejaculation. Others have poor quality semen or spermatogenic disorders and, in this situation, in vitro fertilization techniques must be used to achieve parenthood. Trials of assisted ejaculation help individualize cost-effective management of the infertility.

PMID:
16198718
DOI:
10.1016/S0079-6123(05)52029-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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