Male sexual functioning following SCI

Sexuality is a major rehabilitation priority and concern in men following SCI. Evidence from uninjured individuals demonstrates that physical activity can improve testosterone levels and certain health-related quality of life outcomes. However, it is unclear if physical activity has the same impact in persons with chronic (> 1 year) SCI. Thus, this study aims to investigate quality of life, sex hormone concentrations and perceptions of sexual function across two groups of men with SCI that perform different amounts of habitual, free-living physical activity.

Participation in this study consists of two visits:

  • The first visit (2 hours) at ICORD in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre for a series of assessments including blood samples, blood pressure, questionnaires, and an interview.
  • The second visit (1 hour) at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility for a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) fat and lean mass scan.

You will also be required to wear a physical activity monitor for three days to provide detailed information on your physical activity behaviours. This device is unobtrusive and will not interfere with your everyday lifestyle

Why should you participate in this study?

A review of the literature identified sexual function as one of the most important priorities for men with SCI and improvements in sexual function is considered an instrumental aspect of successful rehabilitation. This study hopes to understand the relationship between physical activity, and testosterone, quality of life, and sexual function in men with SCI. We hope the information learned from this study can be used in the future to benefit individuals with SCI.

You may be eligible to participate if

  • you are male, 18-50 years of age
  • had a traumatic SCI with at least 12 months post-injury
  • your level of injury is between C4-L2
  • you have a motor-complete (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale; AIS A or B) or motor-incomplete (AIS C or D) SCI. If you have a motor-incomplete injury and can ambulate we require you to use a wheelchair for more than 75% of your waking day.
  • you have a good command and comprehension of English

You may not be able to participate if you

  • have a traumatic brain injury and/or cognitive disorder
  • sustained a pre-pubertal SCI
  • received testosterone replacement therapy within 6 weeks
  • consume excessive alcohol daily (more than 2 drinks per day)
  • use recreational drugs (more than twice per week)
  • daily take opioids, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) anti-depressant medication
  • have untreated sleep apnea

Time commitment

3 hours (Visit 1 = 2 hours. Visit 2 = 1 hour).

Compensation for participation

At the end of the study, you will receive an honorarium of $20 per visit travel expenses.

For more information or to sign up to participate, please contact Dr. Tom Nightingale by email or call 604-675-8856