How does a traumatic brain injury affect sexual functioning?
The following changes in sexual functioning can happen after TBI:
- Decreased Desire: Many people may have less desire or interest in sex.
- Increased Desire: Some people have increased interest in sex after TBI and may want to have sex more often than usual. Others may have difficulty controlling their sexual behavior. They may make sexual advances in inappropriate situations or make inappropriate sexual comments.
- Decreased Arousal: Many people have difficulty becoming sexually aroused. This means that they may be interested in sex, but their bodies do not respond. Men may have difficulty getting or keeping an erection. Women may have decreased vaginal lubrication (moisture in the vagina).
- Difficulty or Inability to Reach Orgasm/Climax: Both men and women may have difficulty reaching orgasm or climax. They may not feel physically satisfied after sexual activity.
- Reproductive Changes: Women may experience irregular menstrual cycles or periods. Sometimes, periods may not occur for weeks or months after injury. They may also have trouble getting pregnant. Men may have decreased sperm production and may have difficulty getting a woman pregnant.
What causes changes in sexual functioning after TBI?
There are many reasons sexual problems happen after TBI. Some are directly related to damage to the brain. Others are related to physical problems or changes in thinking or relationships.
- Possible causes of changes in sexual functioning after TBI include:
- Damage to the Brain: Changes in sexual functioning may be caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control sexual functioning.
- Hormonal Changes: Damage to the brain can affect the production of hormones, like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. These changes in hormones affect sexual functioning.
- Medication Side Effects: Many medications commonly used after TBI have negative side effects on sexual functioning.
- Fatigue/Tiredness: Many people with TBI tire very easily. Feeling tired, physically or mentally, can affect your interest in sex and your sexual activity.
- Problems with Movement: Spasticity (tightness of muscles), physical pain, weakness, slowed or uncoordinated movements, and balance problems may make it difficult to have sex.
- Self-Esteem Problems: Some people feel less confident about their attractiveness after TBI. This can affect their comfort with sexual activity.
- Changes in Thinking Abilities: Difficulty with attention, memory, communication, planning ahead, reasoning, and imagining can also affect sexual functioning.
- Emotional Changes: Individuals with TBI often feel sad, nervous, or irritable. These feelings may have a negative effect on their sexual functioning, especially their desire for sex.
- Changes in Relationships and Social Activities: Some people lose relationships after TBI or may have trouble meeting new people. This makes it difficult to find a sexual partner.
Continue–> Sexuality After Traumatic Brain Injury.