For an SCI individual, the myths about sex can be particularly worrying. Counselling psychologist MARTELEZE VAN GRAAN sets out to dispel them
Sexual rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries involves educating and empowering them to have a fulfilling and satisfying sexual experience – and each person’s experience is unique. Here are four common myths about SCI and sex:
- After SCI, I won’t be able to have sex: FALSE
A person with SCI will be able to have sex. What is the most important sexual organ? The brain! The way the person has sex will change and the ability to be creative and playful will be vital. There are options available that facilitate a sexual experience for an SCI individual. This will also be largely dependent on the site of the injury and whether there is sensation. Many SCI people have satisfying and rewarding sexual experiences.
- I won’t be able to satisfy my partner’s sexual needs: FALSE
The key is to speak to your partner about what switches them on sexually and to share what switches you on. This allows each person to have a better understanding of how to pleasure their partner. Some partners of people with SCI have said that sex after the injury was more fulfilling than before.
- My partner will leave me because I can’t satisfy their needs sexually: FALSE
Sexuality is a human need but it makes up just one aspect of the total person. There are numerous other elements that contribute to who a person is, for example, their social and spiritual life, hobbies and interests. Some people look for security above all; others are adventurous. A relationship, too, is seldom based on only one need. The challenge is to fulfil the other person’s various needs.
- I can’t have children because of SCI: FALSE
Many factors come into play and each situation is unique. A man with SCI may be able to impregnate his partner; a female could still fall pregnant. It is important to speak to a sexologist and medical professional to find out what the options are for you.
In order to have a satisfying sexual experience it is important to be aware of these misconceptions and myths. The foundation of a fulfilling sexual experience consists of communicating about the misconceptions and expressing sexual needs in an open, effective manner.
Marteleze van Graan is a Counselling Psychologist registered with the HPCSA. Marteleze is in private practice in the Pretoria area and works for Charis Psychological services at rehabilitation hospitals in the Gauteng area. In the rehabilitation context, she provides counselling for patients and families as well as sexology. This article appears courtesy of Charis Psychological Services.