Sexuality and sexual life in women with spinal cord injury: A controlled study
Margareta Kreuter, Agneta Siösteen, Fin Biering-Sørensen
Objective: To describe sexual life in women with spinal cord injury.
Design: Controlled cross-sectional, questionnaire.
Participants and methods: Women, 18–65 years, treated at spinal cord centres in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland. 545 women (57%) completed the questionnaires. The age-matched control group consisted of 507 women. The 104-item Spinal Cord Injury Women Questionnaire, was designed to assess different dimensions of sexuality.
Results: 80% of the women with spinal cord injury had engaged in sex after the injury. Reasons for not wanting or not having the courage to be intimate and sexual were physical problems, low sexual desire, low self-esteem and feelings of being unattractive. The motivations of both the women with spinal cord injury and controls to engage in sexual activity were intimacy-based rather than primarily sexual. Being in the right mood both before and during sex to become receptive to sexual stimulation was important.
Conclusion: For women who are able to overcome the physical restrictions and mental obstacles due to injury, it is possible to regain an active and positive sexual life together with a partner. Sexual information and counselling should be available both during initial rehabilitation and later when the women have returned to their homes.
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