Sex & you

Sex & you

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sex after a Stroke

Sexuality is really different after a stroke. There are some consequences and those who want to experience normal life after a stroke should be aware of them.

Strokes are responsible for over 15% of deaths in developed countries and the numbers are higher in undeveloped countries. 3 out of 10 patients that have experienced a stroke have permanent consequences although most of them don’t need help with their everyday activities. Around 20% of these patients need help with at least one daily activity and some of them need institutional help. More severe cases of stroke leave patients with severe disabilities.

Stroke (cerebrovascular accident (CVA)) is a disease that dramatically impacts the life of those who are suffering from it and also the lives of the people that leave with that person. In some cases it can destroy the balance between the partners that existed before. A stroke usually affects the walking, senses, emotional life and even mutual understanding between partners. All these things can significantly affect the sexual life.

When it comes to stroke and erectile dysfunction, nearly 8 in 10 men experience them but the good thing is that they usually disappear after few months (without any special treatment for sexual dysfunction). However, many couples have difficulties in their bed years after the stroke occurred. A special kind of problems can be caused by urinal difficulties that usually appear after a stroke.  Psychological factors such as low self-esteem can also impact the sex life and they are often caused by antidepressant intake. Sexuality and relationship with the partner can cause emotional difficulties and behavioral changes like apathy, explosiveness etc. Many people fear that being sexually active again could lead to another stroke and that’s why they avoid sexual intercourse. These fears are not based on facts and they are just irrational. In some cases partners have to find another way of communication. This is a factor that can really complicate sexuality after stroke because some people have difficulties to speak and even understand other people.

Stroke can hit different regions of the brain. In some cases, it may damage the area of sexuality. Stroke can also affect the hypothalamus, region of the brain that is managing the actions of the hormones. In rare cases this damage can lead to a reverse process where the stroke sufferer has increased sexual desire and it can even lead to unusual/inappropriate sexual behavior.

The biggest problem is the rejection of the current situation and a strong desire to return in the time before the stroke happened. By accepting the current situation, patients can have faster progress in their life. The fear that the stroke sufferer will be rejected by his or her partner is strong but the truth is that the other partner can more easily accept the physical changes compared to the psychological changes.

In some cases there is a link between pregnancy and stroke. Stroke can be a result of taking birth control pills. Women during pregnancy are facing three times higher risk of stroke. However this last claim is rejected by some researchers and this is an area that still needs to be explored.