Fertility in men progressively reduces after spinal cord injury. A low sperm count with diminished motility (swim strength) is often due to continuing non-ejaculation, infection and raised testicular temperatures from sitting in a wheelchair and laying in bed for long periods with little mobility and poor air flow. Earliest collection and storage of sperm after a spinal cord injury might therefore be enacted. Seminal fluid quality may improve after repeated ejaculation. All good reasons to engage in regular wheelchair sex.

But how?

For seminal emission to occur the spinal cord nerves from T11 to L2 to the vasa deferentia, seminal vesicles and prostate must be intact. Emission being a trickling or leakage of semen with no rhythmic contractions of the pelvic floor muscles as in true ejaculation. Some with complete cord lesions at lumbar or sacral level may be able to achieve psychogenic erections and emission. Retrograde ejaculation, where the semen is ejected into the bladder rather than the urethral meatus is common.

When ejaculation cannot be achieved by sexual intercourse it may be induced by masturbation or vibrator stimulus of the fraenum (underside tip) of the penis. Emissions may also be induced by rectal electro-ejaculation (a vibrator applied to prostate via the anus). A hypo-gastric plexus stimulator can also be implanted to achieve emission, using a single inductive link across the skin. When neither ejaculation nor emission can be achieved, collection of sperm by epididymal aspiration or testicular biopsy (a sample collected from testicles by needle) is possible.

It is essential to obtain microbiological cultures of the seminal fluid and eradicate any infection prior to proceeding with an attempt at fertilisation. Fertilisation success rates after spinal cord injury have improved with the use of seminal fluid enhancement techniques, intrauterine insemination, In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).

More FAQ’s:

What is a normal sperm count?

15 - 250 million sperm per millilitre.

For how long can sperm be frozen?

In excess of 20 years, depending on the storage techniques used.

On what basis are biological specimens destroyed?

Biological specimens are the property of the donor, and whomever it’s been left to in their last will & testament. It therefore requires a written request by the legal owner in order to have a specimen destroyed alternatively a copy of the death certificate.

How do you collect the sperm?

You are expected to provide a sperm specimen by ejaculation using any of the following techniques: masturbation, a specimen collection pouch (special condom) used during intercourse, or through electro-stimulation (speak to your Urologist). The semen is collected, screened, and prepared for cryogenic storage.