Sexual Functioning


People with mid-late stage superficial siderosis often experience sexual problems. Because arousal begins in the central nervous system, if brain-to-spinal cord communication is disrupted, the brain’s messages to the sexual organs traveling along nerves running through the spinal cord the messages never arrive. As neural tissue damage to these nerve pathways progresses, sexual response — including arousal and orgasm — is directly affected. Sexual problems may also be aggravated by fatigue or spasticity, as well as mood changes.

Superficial siderosis may affect the sexual ability of both men and women. Both men and women with SS may experience difficulty achieving orgasm or loss of libido. You and your partner may benefit from instruction in alternative means of sexual stimulation to overcome slow arousal and impaired sensation. In addition, techniques such as intermittent catheterization or medication can control urinary leakage during intercourse.

Treatment and Magagment


Men may experience difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection (by far the most common problem), reduced sensation in the penis, and difficulty achieving ejaculation.

Researchers have uncovered clear links between erectile dysfunction (ED) and peripheral neuropathy. This study of 90 patients shows that men with more severe symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, which can be caused by disease, trauma or illness, had greater self-reported ED and required more aggressive treatment. The findings underline the importance of clinicians carrying out neurophysiological tests on patients with ED, particularly in the pelvic area.¹

Erectile Dysfunction Aids

  • Oral medications
  • Injectable medications
  • Small suppositories that are inserted into the penis
  • Inflatable devices or implants.


Women may experience reduced sensation in the vaginal and clitoral area, painfully heightened senses, and vaginal dryness.

Superficial siderosis female patient sexual dysfunction (FSD) is the result of autonomic peripheral neuropathy damage of the nerves in the pelvic and sacral regions.2 The female sexual function requires the interaction of areas of both the central and peripheral somatic and autonomic nervous system. There is a strong correlation between urinary incontinence and FSD.3

An intact sensation is required for arousal. Impaired levels of sexual functioning are more common in women with peripheral neuropathies than men.

Dysfunction Aids

  • Use of a vibrator to increase stimulation and arousal
  • Use of liquid or jellied, water-soluble personal lubricants for vaginal dryness. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) should not be used because it is not water-soluble and may cause infection.
  • Clitoral vacuum device


1Consuelo Valles-Antuña, Jesus Fernandez-Gomez, Fernando Fernandez-Gonzalez. Peripheral neuropathy: an underdiagnosed cause of erectile dysfunction. BJU International, 2011; 108 (11): 1855 DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10126.x

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2Lilius et al., 1976; Tepavcevic et al., 2008

3Berard, E.J. The sexuality of spinal cord injured women: physiology and pathophysiology. A review. Paraplegia. 1989; 27: 99–112

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