The Center for Men’s Health at TUCC offers a number of treatment options to help counter impaired fertility following a spinal cord injury. There are three main issues treated in men with spinal cord injuries: erectile dysfunction, sperm retrieval and sperm abnormalities.
Though an erection is not necessary for fertility, treating erectile dysfunction allows couples to try for natural conception, which can occur in up to 10 percent of cases in which the male partner has a spinal cord injury. Treatments for erectile dysfunction include prescription medication such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis, self-injected medication, urethral suppositories or vacuum erection devices. In more severe cases, surgical treatments may also be an option. Surgical procedures used to treat erectile dysfunction include penile implants, which involve the insertion of malleable or inflatable rods into the penis, and vascular reconstructive surgery, a procedure that improves blood flow to the penis.
Many men with spinal cord injuries are unable to ejaculate and therefore require medical assistance to procure sperm for fertility purposes. Some methods assist ejaculation to obtain semen, while others bypass ejaculation and retrieve sperm surgically. For more difficult cases, surgical sperm retrieval (MESA and TESE) is the best option. Penile Vibratory Stimulation (PVS) is usually the first option for sperm retrieval. It is considered safe, reliable and cost-effective.