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Spinal Cord Injury and ejaculation

Penile vibratory stimulation is one method that can help men with spinal cord injury ejaculate.

Most men with spinal cord injuries are unable to ejaculate at all during sex. This is a problem for men who want to have biological children.

In penile vibratory stimulation (PVS), a vibrator is placed at the tip of the penis to prompt ejaculation. Sometimes, two vibrators are used. Success often depends on the type of vibrator used. High amplitude vibrators, available by prescription only, are usually more effective because they stimulate more surface area. Low amplitude vibrators, available over-the-counter, do not cover as much area and are less effective.

PVS can be done in the doctor’s office or at home. In each case, the ejaculate is collected in a sterile cup so that the sperm quality can be analyzed.

While PVS is effective for some men, it’s important to note a serious risk: autonomic dysreflexia (AD). AD can happen when the body overreacts to stimuli below the point of injury. In other words, if a man is injured above the pelvic area, PVS can trigger AD. Autonomic dysreflexia is dangerous. In milder forms, it can cause headache, chills, and sweating. But in more serious cases, it can cause extremely high blood pressure, stroke, seizure, or death.

If you’d like to learn more about PVS, see your urologist. Be sure to ask if autonomic dysreflexia is a concern for you.