“I am not worried about my sex life so much, I know that is potentially a step too far,” said patient X, a former Royal Marine, injured in a roadside IED attack in Afghanistan, now a stage 3 paraplegic. “I want to know if it’s possible to have kids still and if so what do I have to do to make it happen?”
“Let’s start from the beginning, many things are possible,” Dr Amr instructed as they began his diagnosis.
This is an all too real scenario happening in our clinic in London almost every day. Spinal injury patients face almost unimaginable struggles as they attempt to put their lives back together. Once free walking, jogging and self-reliant individuals, their lives have been turned upside down in the most drastic of circumstances. The very fact that many of these individuals survived is both testament to the human will to live as well as the amazing medical staff of this country. But what happens after this incredible recovery and rehabilitation, once the very act of staying alive has taken place and the individual is taking stock of their life, limitations and potential.
One of the very real considerations these individuals must decide upon is what do they want out of life. For many of these adults, part of this is their own sexual ability and reproductive possibilities. These may seem like slightly trivial considerations compared to the journey they have been on and the trauma experienced but a core component of the adult condition and our bodily performance is sexual activity, providing both pleasures in a physical and mental capacity. It provides the release of pleasure endorphins, reduces stress and can be a source of intimacy between individuals. The very fact that we define adulthood by sexual activity legalities can be an important milestone in both body and mental independence, especially for those whose independence has been limited by disability.
Another consideration for many individuals in these circumstances is that their ability to be reproductive may be limited by their paralysis. This can be a daunting thought for many young men who aim to have children, grow a family and can lead to stress and anxiety within partnerships where previous aims have been disrupted.
Medication such as Viagra or Cialis or non-invasive treatments like Shockwave can provide the first step in treatment to help those with less severe injuries, harnessing the healing power of the body. Using Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (EWST), intense but short energy waves, are directed through the body onto the erectile mechanism. These initiate a pro-flamatory response in the tissue where the shockwave has been applied. The body responds by increasing the blood circulation and metabolism in the impact area which in turn accelerates the body’s own healing processes. For many of these men, solutions are available. Depending specifically on the severity of the injury and the doctor’s own assessment of the patient, there are a number of methods to address both sides of these concerns. Simple medication and shockwave can help for those with mild injuries to harness the healing power of the body and treat the erectile musculature. Diagnosis tools such as ultrasound and blood profiles can dive deep into the body to determine the penile muscle levels, and degree and type of damage to this and then develop a treatment plan to achieve objectives. Also, psycho-sexual counselling can help alleviate the stress and anxiety felt about sexual activity and help restore bodily confidence for spinal patients.
For more severe injuries, surgically inserted implants can provide erections on demand for men with a simple internal system. This surgical method can provide the sexual ability they desire on demand, relieving anxiety and performance stress while providing a return of a small part of the independence they previously enjoyed.
In terms of fertility, treating the erectile mechanism can provide a starting point on the road to sexual rehabilitation. Sperm extraction via modern medical methods such as Electro Ejaculation techniques which stimulate specific nerve bundles to create ejaculation or surgical sperm retrieval provides the ability to obtain a men’s sperm from the source and artificially introduce it to the partner’s eggs to encourage fertilisation.
Psycho-sexual counselling can provide powerful therapy to alleviate the stress and anxiety that can develop regarding the patients about sexual abilities and help restore bodily confidence for spinal patients while addressing each individual’s very specific condition, symptoms and the cause of these injuries.
The main factor for these brave men, women and their partners is that there is a solution out there. The first milestone to achieve is to find out more information from a website like International Andrology, talk to our understanding live chat and friendly patient coordinators, meet an expert to discuss options. Men with disabilities should know that the future is potentially better than what they have been through and there may be a solution at reach.
International Andrology is the world’s leading healthcare group focusing exclusively on men’s health. Established in 1990 and with more than 30000 men treated to-date, International Andrology doctors offer the most advanced treatments on issues related to erectile dysfunction, ejaculation disorders, genital health (penis size and shape), prosthetic urology (penile implant, artificial sphincter), male hormonal health and subfertility, from four locations worldwide (London, Athens, Dubai and Rome).