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Have you heard that men with spinal cord injuries can’t procreate or that their semen is subpar? Fortunately, these are both myths. Explore the truths and get information on medical options for fathering children.
If you’re a man with a spinal cord injury, you may be facing some sexual challenges. Fortunately, if you have erectile dysfunction (ED), there are many treatments that you can discuss with your medical team. If you want to have children, there are options too.
Spinal cord injury myths
Unfortunately, some people believe that men with spinal cord injuries cannot father children or that being in a wheelchair negatively impacts the quality of their semen. Some men even get their semen frozen shortly after their injury because they are worried about this.
It is, in fact, true that many paraplegics can no longer produce sperm and, if they do, the ability of their sperm to reproduce is reduced.
But, the broader truth is that many men with an SCI can father a child. And, the genetic quality of semen is not affected by a spinal cord injury.
Today there are several options for gathering semen, even if you can’t get an erection. But it’s important to understand that the success of these methods is not related to how long you have used a wheelchair. That means there’s no need to rush. You can take the time you need for family planning.
Ways to obtain semen
If you and your partner have decided to have a child, here are two ways to obtain semen, even if you can’t get and sustain an erection:
Penile Vibratory Stimulation (PVS): The most common way to gather semen if you are unable to ejaculate on your own is to use a special vibrator to induce ejaculation. You don’t have to have an erection to achieve ejaculation using this method. Some facts on PVS:
Rectal Electrical Stimulator (RES): This is another method used to collect semen. Here’s how it works:
Precautions and other options
Both of these methods carry risks if your spinal cord injury is above the vertebrae labelled T-6. They could cause a spike in blood pressure and a reduced heart rate. Consult with your medical team first, if this applies to you.
If it turns out you can’t use these procedures, surgical Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) is possible. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is another option. Here, a sperm cell is joined with an egg under a microscope. Then, fertilised ovum are implanted in the uterus.
Regardless of the impact of your SCI on reproduction, take heart knowing that you do have some proven medical solutions that can help you start or add to your family.
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