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Erectile function and male reproduction in men with spinal cord injury: a review


Prof. Nikolaos Sofikitis, Urology, School of Medicine, Ionnina University, Metavatiko Building, Ionnina, 45500 Greece.
Tel.: +30 6944 3634 28;
Fax: +30 2651 0970 69;


Spinal cord injury (SCI) in men results in defects in erectile function, ejaculatory process and male reproductive potential. There are alterations in the capacity of men with SCI to achieve reflexogenic, psychogenic and nocturnal erections. The sexual function in different stages after SCI and the types of erections depend mainly on the completeness of the injury and the level of neurological damage. Furthermore, most of the SCI men demonstrate defects concerning the entrance of semen into the posterior urethra and the expulsion of the semen through the penile urethra and the urethral orifice. In addition, SCI men develop defects in the secretory function of the Leydig cells, Sertoli cells and the male accessory genital glands. The overall result is a decreased quality of the semen is recovered either with penile vibratory stimulation (PVS) or with electroejaculation. Nowadays the therapeutic andrological approach of SCI men focuses on achievement of erectile function, recovery of spermatozoa and assisted reproductive technology. The first line of therapy recommended for infertility in SCI men is collection of semen via PVS with concomitant evaluation of total motile sperm yields for assisted conception which may include intravaginal insemination, intrauterine insemination, or in vitro fertilisation/intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Patients failing PVS may be referred for electroejaculation or surgical sperm retrieval.