anonymous on September 8, 2011

Is lack of genital sensation common for people with cerebral palsy?

I’m 34, and I’ve had cerebral palsy since birth. Recently, my interest in sex has piqued and I have had several encounters in recent months some of them being intercourse and some not. My question refers to my seeming lack of sensation in my genitals. Is this common with CP?

answered by Mitchell Tepper, PhD, MPH on September 8, 2011

Thanks for sharing your great question, although researchers have yet to discover a satisfying answer to it.

To date, there have only been a handful of studies on sexual response in adults who have cerebral palsy (CP). Over the years, medical treatment of CP has improved, and more children born with CP are living (and thriving) into adulthood. But research on adults with CP is lagging, including how people with CP experience sex.

Most of the research so far focuses on the sexual relationships and experiences of young men and women with CP ⎼ often between the ages of 16-24. In one study of 20-24-year-olds with CP in the Netherlands, researchers found thatabout 5% of respondents noted numbness in the genitals.

That said, CP typically doesn’t affect sexual function. Because CP affects muscles, muscle tone and posture – not so much the ability to feel tactile sensations – sexual function is usually intact. However, people with CP can still experience problems because of other issues.

So I would encourage you to consult your doctor about your lack of genital sensation during sex. For example, some medications can cause sexual problems in addition to health problems…and your doctor may be able to modify a dosage or recommend alternate treatment.

In addition to checking into potential physical causes of your symptoms …sometimesour own mental hang-ups can hold us back from sexual pleasure. If that’s the case with you, a counselor or sex therapist may be able to help you develop healthy attitudes about your sexual self. For example, theAmerican Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists provides listings for licensed sex therapists in your area.

This is an exciting time for you, and I wish you the best of luck as you explore your sexuality and discover more and more ways to experience sexual pleasure.

Related info:

Mitchell Tepper, PhD, MPH

Dr. Tepper directs sexual health education at An AASECT-certified sexuality educator and counselor, his areas of expertise include sexual dysfunctions, sexuality following disability or illness, pleasure and orgasm, relationships, and military and veteran couples' counseling. Dr. Tepper was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

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