The Effects of Spinal Cord Injury on Psychogenic Sexual Arousal in Males

Academic Article


  • Purpose: We determined if the degree of preservation of sensory function in the T11-L2 dermatomes could be used to determine the potential for psychogenic erectile responses in men with spinal cord injury. Materials and Methods: Subjects included 45 men with spinal cord injury and 16 able-bodied control subjects. A 78-minute laboratory based analysis was done of subject subjective arousal, penile circumference, blood pressure, and heart rate responses to audiovisual erotic and audiovisual erotic combined with manual penile stimulation. Results: Able-bodied subjects generally had significantly greater penile circumferences than spinal cord injured subjects during the stimulation periods. The degree of preservation of combined pinprick and light touch sensation in the T11-L2 dermatomes distinguished those who did and did not have a significant increase in penile circumference with audiovisual stimulation. Blood pressure and heart rate readings were generally higher in able-bodied than spinal cord injured subjects throughout the experimental protocol. However, all readings were within normal limits. Conclusions: Results support the hypothesis that psychogenic erection depends on the sympathetic nervous system. Findings underscore a possible parallel in neurological control of sexual responses between the sexes. © 2007 American Urological Association.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Sipski M; Alexander C; Gómez-Marín O; Spalding J
  • Start Page

  • 247
  • End Page

  • 251
  • Volume

  • 177
  • Issue

  • 1