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Can A Man With Spinal Cord Injury Impregnate A Woman?

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A spinal cord injury (SCI) is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. People tell many men with spinal cord injuries that they cannot have babies because of their injuries. This idea made a man with SCI think of a scary question: Can a man with spinal cord injury impregnate a woman, and is it true that an injury can make a person infertile?

Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury causes damage to the spinal cord or nearby tissues and bones. You may lose function or mobility in different parts of your body depending on the severity of the injury. Surgery, medication, and physical therapy are all options for treatment.

A more recent approach seeks to stimulate working nerves. What effects does a spinal cord injury have on the body?

Many vital functions are lost when nerves are unable to communicate with the brain due to injury. When the spinal cord is hurt, it can affect how the bladder and intestines work, as well as breathing, heart rate, metabolism (how the body turns food into energy), muscle movement, reflexes, and feelings.

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Male Fertility After SCI

As was previously mentioned, many men with spinal cord injuries are informed that their injury makes them infertile. Typically, this is untrue. Men often lose the ability to ejaculate after a spinal cord injury, but their sperm production usually stays the same.

The doctors at The Men's Clinic at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) can figure out the best way to get sperm from a man with a spinal cord injury so that the sperm can be used for IUI or IVF (IVF).

These changes in sexual function and fertility after SCI may include:

  • Changes in erection and ejaculation function, including erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced or absent sensation and movement below the injury site.
  • Elevated sensitivity in areas above the injury site, particularly in men with injuries to the mid-thoracic region and above.

Female Fertility After SCI

When a woman has a spinal cord injury, it can affect her sexual function in a number of ways, including her ability to have children. If a woman has a SCI, her period may stop, at least for a while (it often returns later). When using feminine hygiene products, it's important to be careful so you don't get an infection or a toxic shock.

A spinal cord injury doesn't always affect a person's ability to have children, and pregnancy is certainly possible, but it can also be hard. The issue of birth control is different. Birth control pills can make you more likely to get blood clots, which is a problem that gets worse when you can't move around because of an injury.

When a woman has a sexual encounter, her body may change. For example, the vagina may not lubricate well, but this can be fixed with products like KY Jelly, which makes it easier to get a good grip.

SCI Patients Discussed Their Pregnancy Experience

Alyssa Higgins Story

Jimmy Huggins is kissing Alyssa while holding an ultrasound photo and a baby shirt
Jimmy Huggins is kissing Alyssa while holding an ultrasound photo and a baby shirt

A woman who was born with a spinal cord injury and has been in a wheelchair her whole life is telling the world how happy she is to be pregnant. Alyssa Higgins, 30, from Rockland County, New York, is an advocate for people with disabilities. In October, she surprised her husband, Jimmy Higgins, with a photoshoot to tell him the good news.

The couple was surprised by the news because they had been trying to have a baby but weren't sure if it would be possible because of her injury and health.

I didn't even know if I could get pregnant with a spinal cord injury, but also because I have one ovary. The ovary thing made it get into my head more when I thought I couldn't get pregnant. But it was always a possible thing.

- Alyssa Higgins, 30, a woman from Rockland County, New York with SCI

Due to problems with her birth, Alyssa was born with a broken spine. She couldn't breathe on her own, so she was put in an incubator. She didn't start to be able to move her fingers until she was 18 months old.

Her back was hurt between the C1 and C2 vertebrae, which are at the top of the spine. Because her left side is weaker than her right, this injury hurt her left side, making it impossible for her to move on her own.

In 2017, they got engaged, and in 2019, they got married. Even with the SCI, Alyssa and Jimmy had a child in the end. The United Spinal Association says there is no proof that a spinal cord injury makes it harder for a woman to get pregnant.

Women With SCI - Pegnancy, Labor And Delivery

Women with Spinal Cord Injury: Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery

'It's Still Work' Says Paraplegic Couples

Since Krieg was paralyzed in a dirt bike accident in 2014 and has no sensation below his chest, Amanda Diesen and Todd Krieg had given up hope of having children of their own, so when Diesen became pregnant, they wanted to do something special to mark the moment.

Diesen, who is 25, and Krieg, who is 23, decided to use a silly pregnancy announcement photo with the words "It Still Works" written in chalk behind them. During the fun shoot, Krieg proposed!

It was great, we’re so goofy, and we wanted something to portray our relationship. I had looked a ton on Pinterest, but there aren’t a lot of ideas for those in a wheelchair. I stumbled across one where a dad was holding a sign that said ‘I did that,’ so it gave me the idea to write, ‘It still works.'

- Amanda Deisen, a 25-year-old pregnant woman with SCI

They put the photo online "as a funny announcement for our friends," she says, but it quickly went viral, getting more than 2 million views. She further said:

"I think that loving someone in Todd’s situation takes a bit more patience and a servant heart, but if you truly love someone it won’t be any different than if he were up and walking. Of course, it’s tough on me sometimes, not being able to stand up and get a hug from the person I love most, or be able to walk around in public holding hands or go running on the beach together. But honestly, the love that Todd and I have for each other is something I wouldn’t trade for the world."

They have been together since September 2015, when they met while Beiden was working as a recovery specialist at a paralysis center called Project Walk in Carlsbad, California, and now make their home in Elyria, Ohio, with Krieg's parents. Krieg, who is now an accountant for a building firm, took part in Project Walk.

Complete spinal cord injuries result in paraplegia or tetraplegia. An incomplete spinal cord injury is defined as partial spinal cord damage. The ability to move and feel is determined by the area of the back injured and the severity of the injury.

Michelle Donald Brings Hope To People With SCI

Michelle Donald - Psychosexual therapist, Cauda Equina Syndrome and our intimate relationships

Michelle Donald is a senior psychosexual therapist who has had a spinal cord injury herself. Michelle suffered a spinal cord injury when she fell off the back of a motorcycle in 1996. She has a complete T12 injury.

Michelle found it difficult to obtain information about sex and spinal cord injury while in the hospital. Unfortunately, Michelle and her partner struggled for some time to reawaken their intimate relationship. She often wondered what the point of her existence was if she couldn't feel anything.

People Also Ask

Can Men With A Spinal Cord Injury Get An Erection?

Men are more likely to keep their ability to get an erection than to keep their ability to ejaculate. Up to 95% of men with spinal cord injuries have trouble ejaculating, but 80% of them get some erectile function back within 2 years.

Does Spinal Cord Injury Affect Sperm Production?

Men with a spinal cord injury (SCI) often have neurogenic reproductive dysfunction, which is caused by a combination of impotence, inability to ejaculate, and abnormal sperm characteristics. It is well known that men with SCI have low-quality sperm, and changes can be seen as early as 2 weeks after the injury.

Can Someone With Spinal Cord Injury Get Pregnant?

Having a spinal cord injury (SCI) doesn't affect your natural ability to get pregnant, carry, and give birth to a baby, so you can decide whether or not to have children in much the same way as anyone else.

Many women who receive spinal cord injuries are in their childbearing years. Following a spinal cord injury (SCI), there is no evidence that a woman's ability to conceive is affected. Observation has shown however, that women with SCI are usually older when they have their first pregnancy, than their able-bodied counterparts and therefore may have age related fertility issues.

- United Spinal Association

Final Thoughts

Can a man with spinal cord injury impregnate a woman? From what this article says, the answer is "yes." However, most people with SCI require some time to adjust to their body's limitations and begin to explore again. After a spinal cord injury, there will be some time for adjusting, and again, being open and willing to try new things is important.

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