Delicate journey of rediscovery

Danie Breedt
By Danie Breedt
4 Min Read

It takes delicate and intentional actions to rediscover intimacy and sexuality after a spinal cord injury

Intimacy and sexuality are integral aspects of human relationships, serving as vehicles for emotional connection and physical expression.

However, the aftermath of a spinal cord injury (SCI) often casts a complex shadow over these dimensions, necessitating a delicate and intentional journey of rediscovery for both the individual with the injury and their partner.

Challenges and emotional resonance

The changes in physical function and sensation resulting from a SCI can trigger a myriad of emotions, ranging from frustration and anger to sadness and insecurity.

These emotional responses may be mirrored by partners, who might also grapple with their feelings of loss, confusion, and concern for their loved one.

In the realm of intimacy and sexuality, these emotions can create a substantial barrier, impeding the natural flow of connection and leaving both individuals feeling vulnerable and disconnected.

The injured individual may encounter altered sensations, loss of bodily autonomy, and changes in sexual function that challenge their self-perception and body image.

Partners, in turn, may find it difficult to balance their roles as caregiver and lover, navigating a landscape filled with ambiguity and uncertainty.

Thus, addressing the emotional impact of these challenges is paramount, requiring empathetic communication and a safe space for sharing thoughts and fears.

Education and exploration

An essential aspect of post-SCI intimacy is education, both for the individuals directly affected and for their partners.

Many couples may be unfamiliar with the potential physical changes and adaptations that come with a SCI, which can exacerbate anxiety and misconceptions.

It is vital to seek reliable information and professional guidance to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding intimacy and sexuality after SCI.

By understanding the intricacies of the injury and its effects on physical sensations and sexual function, couples can embark on a journey of exploration.

This journey involves a willingness to experiment with various techniques and approaches that cater to the new circumstances.

Communication, once again, plays a central role, enabling partners to express their desires, preferences, and concerns.

Attending workshops or counselling sessions led by experienced sex therapists can provide practical tools and techniques for maintaining a fulfilling intimate life.

These sessions create a space for individuals and couples to ask questions, share experiences, and learn from others who have successfully navigated similar challenges.

Reconnecting through emotional and physical intimacy

Reconnecting on an emotional and physical level post-SCI requires patience, trust, and a commitment to mutual growth.

The journey of rediscovery entails a shift in focus from traditional notions of sexual performance to a broader understanding of intimacy – one that encompasses emotional closeness, affection, and shared experiences.

Engaging in activities that foster emotional closeness, such as open communication, shared hobbies, and quality time together, can help partners forge deeper connections.

Physical touch, affectionate gestures, and non-sexual forms of intimacy also play a vital role in rebuilding trust and intimacy.

Moreover, couples can explore alternative methods of physical pleasure that align with the individual’s capabilities and preferences.

This process of exploration can not only reignite physical intimacy but also strengthen the emotional bond, promoting a sense of unity and shared growth.

Share This Article
Danie Breedt
By Danie Breedt Psychologist
Danie Breedt is a passionate scholar-practitioner in the field of psychology. He divides his time between training future psychologists, research and clinical practice. Danie works from an integrative interactional approach in therapy dealing with a wide range of emotional difficulties. He is currently working as a psychologist at numerous physical rehabilitation hospitals across Gauteng for Charis Psychological Services where he does supportive counselling as well as sexual education for patients with disabilities. Column courtesy of Charis Psychological Services.
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.