Spinal Cord Injury: Sensual Exercises

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Sensual exercises may help you enjoy sexual intimacy and find satisfaction after a spinal cord injury. You may find that your old methods of finding satisfaction still work. Or maybe they no longer do. Doing sensual exercises with your partner may help you relax and focus more on the pleasurable touching of lovemaking than on sexual intercourse or orgasm.

The goal is to find sexual activity that is interesting and enjoyable and that gives both of you pleasure. Your level of injury will probably affect what you can do.

  • Create a pleasant environment.

    Sensual exercises may be most helpful if done in a soothing, relaxing, and playful atmosphere. Do your bowel and bladder program first to avoid any accidents. Then put on some pleasant music, turn off the phone, and concentrate on your partner.

  • Try nongenital pleasuring.

    Remove your clothes. Have your partner lie facedown. Starting at your partner's neck, slowly caress and kiss from head to toe. Then have your partner turn over. Repeat the caressing and kissing. Avoid touching the nipples or any part of the genitals. Concentrate on how good touching your partner feels. Then trade places. Lie on your stomach while your partner caresses you. Don't have intercourse the first day. Enjoy holding, relaxing, and laughing.

  • Try genital pleasuring.

    After you and your partner are comfortable with nongenital pleasuring, include genital touching as part of the exercise. Again, don't have intercourse.

  • Try nondemanding intercourse.

    When both partners are ready, continue a session of genital pleasuring by having intercourse. Don't force intercourse too soon. Rather, fully enjoy the genital pleasure leading up to it.

  • Try different positions.

    Trying a number of sexual positions may help you find comfort during sex, especially if pain or spasms occur during intercourse. If this does occur, talk to your doctor.

    • Because of the lack of movement and feeling you may have, finding and getting into comfortable positions can be hard. It's important to experiment with this.
    • Bulletin boards on many SCI websites provide a forum where people with SCIs and their partners post information about their level of injury and what works for them.

Related Information


Current as of: August 25, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Nancy Greenwald MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.