Women typically report reduced participation in sex and satisfaction with their sexuality following Spinal Cord injuries (SCI) due to changes in sensation and physical functioning. Psychosocial factors are also important but, despite significant differences in the patterning and impact of SCIs by aetiology, these have not been explored in the context of Spinal Cord Damage (SCD, non-traumatic SCI). This article seeks to gain insight into the experience of sexual pleasure for women. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 women (mean age 67.8 years) who had experienced SCD. Sexuality after SCD occurred in a context of disrupted normality. The impact of physical impairment and regained functionality was significant, but the effect of social constructs regarding sexuality, disability, gender and aging were more profound, with rigid adherence to norms by participants and others typically serving as barriers to sexual pleasure. In contrast, flexible norms served to enhance sexual satisfaction. By supporting women to express their sexuality in changed circumstances, there is a role for formal services to better support women’s sexual adjustment and wellbeing after SCD.
- non-traumatic spinal cord damage
- social factors