Damage to the spinal cord impairs its ability to transmit messages between the brain and parts of the body below the level of the lesion.
SCI often affects body image, either due to the host of changes in the body that affect appearance (e.g.
unused muscles in the legs become atrophied), or due to changes in self-perception not directly from physical changes.
Sexuality has biological, psychological, emotional, spiritual, social, and cultural aspects.
This indicates that the brain can still send and receive some messages to the lowest parts of the spinal cord, beyond the damaged area.
Many people with SCI have satisfying sex lives, and many experience sexual arousal and orgasm.
People with SCI employ a variety of adaptations to help carry on their sex lives healthily, by focusing on different areas of the body and types of sexual acts.
The location of injury to the spinal cord maps to the body, and the area of skin innervated by a specific spinal nerve, is called a dermatome.
All dermatomes below the level of injury to the spinal cord may lose sensation.
Neural plasticity may account for increases in sensitivity in parts of the body that have not lost sensation, so people often find newly sensitive erotic areas of the skin in erogenous zones or near borders between areas of preserved and lost sensation.
Drugs, devices, surgery, and other interventions exist to help men achieve erection and ejaculation.
For women with injuries above T6, a risk during labor and delivery that threatens both mother and fetus is autonomic dysreflexia, in which the blood pressure increases to dangerous levels high enough to cause potentially deadly stroke.