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Sexual Dysfunction After a Brain Injury: What You Need To Know

Sexual Dysfunction After a Brain Injury: What You Need To Know

Sexual dysfunction is one side effect of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that doesn’t receive much attention. However, according to research published in the National Library of Medicine, it’s a problem that affects up to 50% of all TBI patients.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, 2.8 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injury annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 1.5 million of these victims survive.

The data shows strong evidence that up to 750,000 Americans may need sexual dysfunction treatment as they recover from TBIs. TBIs cause a seismic shift in thinking, behavior, and body function.

The impact on reproductive health is just one of its devastating effects. The more severe the injury, the higher the chances of significant loss of sexual function.

Neuro Diagnostics Medical P.C., the premier choice for sexual dysfunction treatment in NYC, covers all you need to know about sexual dysfunction after a brain injury.

The Various Ways TBIs Can Affect Sexual Dysfunction

Some of the changes that can happen due to a TBI include the following.

Decrease in Sexual Desire

Many TBI victims have reported far less sexual desire or general interest in sex than before the injury. Some partnered victims also report a complete loss of attraction to their partners.

Increased Desire

On the other hand, some people experience an increased interest in sex following a traumatic brain injury. Many of them report wanting to have sex more often than usual, with some showing signs of sexual deviance or a clear inability to control their sexual behavior.  

Some of these individuals may get in the habit of making inappropriate sexual comments or making sexual advances in inappropriate situations.

Decrease in Sexual Arousal

In some TBI victims, the interest in sex remains the same. However, they experience difficulty with becoming sexually aroused. So, during sexual escapades, men have some difficulty maintaining an erection while women struggle to maintain enough lubrication to support penetrative sex.

The bulk of these individuals get the most positive outcomes with sexual dysfunction treatment.

Difficulty Reaching Sexual Satisfaction

Some of the TBI victims who can have sex may fail to reach orgasm or sexual satisfaction. They may end sexual encounters midway due to frustration, causing them to become less and less receptive to further sex down the line.

Changes in Reproductive Function

Women recovering from TBI may experience irregular periods and menstrual cycles. As a result, they may end up having trouble getting pregnant.

Male victims may also witness a significant drop in sperm count, leading to struggles with getting a woman pregnant.

The Causes of Changes in Sexual Function After a TBI

Sexual problems happen after a TBI for various reasons. They include the following.

Brain Damage

TBI affects parts of the brain responsible for sexual functioning and can lead to sexual dysfunction.

Hormonal Alterations

The damage to the brain can alter the production of certain hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Any changes in these hormones can affect sexual function.

Side Effects of Medication

A good number of the medications medical practitioners recommend for the treatment of TBIs can cause sexual dysfunction.

Physical Weakness

TBI patients in recovery may still be battling weakness, slow or uncoordinated movements, physical pain, muscle tightness, and balance problems. In that condition, they’ll likely struggle to take part in sexual activity.

Low Self-Esteem 

Many TBI victims end up feeling less confident about their attractiveness. This is especially true in cases where the victim has obvious physical injuries which they believe have harmed their physical appearance. Such individuals may be more reluctant to engage in any kind of sexual activity.

Changes in Cognitive and Emotional Function

Some TBI victims struggle with memory, attention, communication, reasoning, and imagination. They may also feel irritable, nervous, and sad more often. A combination of these factors can lead to different types of sexual dysfunction.

Approaches to Sexual Dysfunction Treatment After a TBI

Sexual dysfunction treatment after a TBI often involves the following.

Medical Evaluation

Doctors recommend a comprehensive physical exam to help identify underlying physical conditions contributing to the dysfunction.

The doctors will also run a psychological assessment to explore the contribution of emotional factors such as sexuality, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the sexual dysfunction.

Therapeutic Interventions

The goal of these therapies is to address both the emotional and physical aspects of sexual dysfunction. Commonly recommended options include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and sex therapy.

Medical professionals may recommend couples therapy to help both partners better navigate their sex life after one of them suffers a traumatic brain injury.

Medical Treatments

Proper use of medications, including hormone replacement therapies, can help reverse some types of sexual dysfunction, especially those that concern sexual arousal.

However, medical treatments may not be the best in situations where the TBI patient has risk factors for cardiovascular disease or blood pressure concerns.

Get Help With Sexual Dysfunction After Brain Injury From a Top Neurologist in NYC

Do you need sexual dysfunction treatment after a brain injury? Contact Neuro Diagnostics Medical P.C. today. Our multi-disciplinary approach to sexual dysfunction increases the probability of positive outcomes.

Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available.

There’s a specialist on hand whether you need cognitive rehab therapy or more significant neurological treatment. Call us now to book a consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Common to Experience Sexual Dysfunction Following Traumatic Brain Injury?

According to many reports, it is indeed common to experience sexual dysfunction following traumatic brain injury. This is especially true in patients who suffer moderate to severe TBI.

Which Doctor Should I See for Sexual Dysfunction Following Traumatic Brain Injury?

It’s always best to discuss your sexual dysfunction with the neurosurgeon you’re already seeing for your traumatic brain injury.

How Quickly Can Sexual Dysfunction Treatment Work?

The treatment timeline for sexual dysfunction depends on the extent of the damage to your sexual health. Some cases resolve within a few weeks. However, victims of severe cases of TBI may need treatment for life.

About The Author

Picture of Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D. is a highly respected neurologist based in New York City. With over 20 years of experience in the field of neurology, he has earned a reputation as a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Malhotra is also a dedicated educator and researcher. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and has presented his research at national and international conferences.