Sexuality is a sensitive topic and many patients may avoid asking questions about their sexuality. In this article, we have compiled important information about sexual health in patients with paralysis.
Paralyzed patients after stroke can return to their sexual lives. In fact, stroke rarely causes direct sexual dysfunction. However, there are factors that can complicate healthy sexual intercourse, such as depression associated with stroke, concerns about the person’s appearance, erectile dysfunction, side effects of medications, and fatigue.
Factors that negatively affect sexual life in paralyzed patients
Paralysis brings up many jobs and occupations that the patient and his spouse have not experienced until that day. Things such as the use of new drugs, long hospital stays, catching up with outpatient doctor appointments, tracking medication and health reports, and financial problems can stress both parties and push sexuality into the background.
“Will I be paralyzed again during sexual intercourse?” It is a common concern. In reality, the risk of this happening is very small. The energy expended during sexual intercourse is not more than climbing several flights of stairs. It is true that restriction of sexual intercourse is recommended in certain groups of patients. For example, if you have severe heart failure or if a vascular bubble (aneurysm) that can cause brain bleeding has been detected and you are waiting for the date of surgery for it. However, in most patients, there is no reason to restrict sexual intercourse. It would be best to share your concerns with your doctor.
Paralyzed patients may have concerns about what their spouse or partners think of them. They may wonder if you’re cooling off because of their new situation. This anxiety can reduce the patient’s sexual desire (libido). The reason why your partner is acting shy can be different things, such as the fact that making love can cause pain or a risk to your health. After a stroke, both parties need some time to adjust. Openly share your thoughts with your partner. Consult a specialist if necessary.
After the stroke, a speech and comprehension disorder called aphasia may occur. This can lead to communication difficulties. Aphasia can be cured with speech therapy. There are also ways of communication other than speech. Do not forget that touching is an important communication tool that can show compassion, love or passion depending on the location.
After a stroke, depression may occur in both patients and their spouses, and sexual health is adversely affected. Some of the drugs used in the treatment of depression can also reduce sexual desire.
Rarely, a stroke may have damaged parts of the brain related to the genitals and sexual desire. In this case, the stroke itself is the cause of sexual dysfunction. Sometimes a stroke can, on the contrary, lead to increased sexual feelings and their excessive and inappropriate expression.
Tips for sexual health in stroke patients
Speak openly with your partner. Just talking can relieve many of your worries.
Do not hurry. First, you may want to try non-sexual ways of intimacy, such as touching or massage. Research and talk about what works for you.
Plan sexual intercourse and rest beforehand. If you have rested and reserved time alone with your partner in advance, your chances of having a satisfying union increase. Some bodily responses may be slowed after a stroke, so give yourself time.
Consider the medications you use. Sleeping pills can reduce your attention. Some blood pressure medications can cause erectile dysfunction. You can plan your sexuality before taking the daily dose of such drugs. However, do not change the way you use your own medicines, be sure to consult your doctor. Never use a drug or non-drug product without a prescription with the intention of enhancing sexual function.
Find a position where you are comfortable. In paralysis, there is weakness in the arm and leg on one side of the body. For this reason, you may not be comfortable in the position you used to be in the past. Experiment to find the position that suits you.
Try to understand the new state of your body. Touch sensations can change after stroke. Explore with your partner to find out what you like.
Take time to care for yourself. Taking care of oneself, wearing good clothes increases self-confidence and positively affects sexual health. Even small steps such as shaving and putting on make-up contribute to self-confidence and the fight against depression.
Spouses can take some time off from caregiving. To avoid feeling like a parent instead of a spouse, sometimes consider delegating care to someone else. Bringing fun forward can help you maintain your adult relationship.