Scarlett Letters: My Boyfriend Is Quadriplegic and We're Trying to Have Sex | Scarlett Letters | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Scarlett Letters: My Boyfriend Is Quadriplegic and We're Trying to Have Sex


Published February 6, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated February 12, 2019 at 11:29 a.m.


Dear Scarlett, 

My boyfriend is quadriplegic, and we have no idea how to get him to have an erection long enough to have sex. If we do, he says that it is painful for him. He cannot take any sort of enhancement pills due to the pills he is on for his spinal cord injury. We have been together three and a half years, and I would really like to connect with him in this way. Because we haven't had sex, he's almost completely shut down. He tells me it's hard to explain, but losing his sex drive because he can't keep an erection has also made him lose interest in kissing, hugging and touching in general. It's just not there, but he still loves me very much.


Please Help(female, 21)

Dear Please Help, 

The impacts of paralysis reach far beyond the physical dimensions, as you point out in your letter. Your boyfriend is probably worried that his sex life is over. His self-image may be broken.

That's why good communication is so important — for understanding his injury and being supportive, but also for regaining your emotional connection and finding new ways to be intimate.

Keep in mind, for example, that parts of his body may become newly sensitized, similar to how visual impairment can heighten one's sense of touch and smell. He may not be into touching and kissing right now, but when he is, touch his shoulders, kiss his neck, try to discover new erogenous zones.

Specifically related to intercourse: Since getting and keeping an erection is key, see if your boyfriend will allow you to accompany him on a doctor's visit to explore the options below and any others.

In terms of devices, a cock ring may help him to maintain his erection during sex, and vacuum pumps can stimulate the necessary blood flow. He can also fit his penis inside a strap-on, which maintains form whether he's soft or hard. A swing chair like the IntimateRider can enhance his sexual mobility.

Penile injection therapy (injecting a drug into the penis) can produce firm erections lasting an hour or two. You can also explore permanent implants, ranging from rigid to inflatable.

Other sources that may help include the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the CareCure Community and the American Urological Association, as well as online forums and support groups.



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