An Exploration of the Lived Experiences of Sexual Function and Satisfaction in Young Male Patients Following Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Derek S. Drake, RN, BSN
Sierra ICU, Renown Regional Medical Center, Reno, NV

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify the differences between psychological and physiological orgasm experienced by the male spinal cord injury (SCI) patient.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to identify the essence of lived experiences for sexual function and satisfaction in male spinal cord injury (SCI) patients.

Injury to the spinal cord is devastating leading to permanent, debilitating, and life altering injuries that can be fatal in some instances.  Research suggests there are approximately 250,000 people living in the United States with some form of spinal cord injury (SCI)  with approximately 11,000 new cases occurring annually.  Men are four times more likely to sustain a spinal cord injury and account for 82% of those injured.  The result of SCI has significant impact on the SCI patient’s physical, emotional, and sexual wellbeing. Studies evaluating sexual activity potentiality in males with SCI date back to 1948 where Munro and associates completed extensive research on the sexual function of eighty-four paraplegic men injured in World War II.     Since the earliest studies regaining sexual function has been identified as the highest priority for SCI patients, ranking above improving bowel and bladder function, extremity function, independence, and performing activities of daily living. Approximately 42% of men living with SCI are dissatisfied with their sexual lifestyle, and nearly 50% experience feelings of sexual inadequacy.  More importantly, studies show that the vast majority of persons with SCI never discussed their sexual concerns with health providers, and 90% of these individuals had unrealistic expectations of sexual function and satisfaction. However, there is a paucity of research found within the literature regarding sexual function and satisfaction in SCI patients.  The purpose of this phenomenological inquiry is to explore, describe and gain a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction following spinal cord injury showing health care providers of all fields the need to address sexuality early on in the acute phase of SCI treatment.