What is a traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) falls under the umbrella of what is known as an acquired brain injury. This refers to any type of brain damage that occurs after birth, which includes damage resulting from serious infection, a chronic disease, a lack of oxygen, and a blow to the head.
TBI is just one type of an acquired brain injury, and is usually caused by a severe, direct injury to the head, for example a hard bump from a fall, or being involved in a car accident. Depending on which areas of the brain are affected and the degree of seriousness, a traumatic brain injury can cause changes in thought patterns, behaviour, and physical body functions, including sexual function.
As a rule the more severe the injury, the more notable the symptoms will be.
How a TBI can affect your sexual behaviour
Sexuality and arousal involve various areas of the brain. If any of those areas are damaged, a person may have difficulties with sexual encounters, even though physical functions still work.
Here are some of the more common changes to sexual behaviour after a TBI:
- Emotions after an accident such as depression, anxiety and stress, can reduce sex drive.
- The medications for these emotions also have a negative effect on libido.
- If there were sexual difficulties prior to a TBI, the brain injury may make these problems worse than they were before the trauma.
- Studies have shown that about 40% of men suffer either temporary or permanent erectile dysfunction after a brain injury.
- Around 30% of both men and women have reported a difficulty, or an inability to orgasm, after a TBI.
- Physical disabilities as a direct result of brain trauma after an accident may drastically cut down on sexual frequency until things improve physically and mentally.
- Temporary short term memory loss which may cause some folk to forget about contraception, or even initiating sex, as was the case before the accident or brain injury.
- A lack of confidence after a traumatic event, which causes some injured folk reluctant to even entertain the idea of having sex.
Experts recommend that after a TBI, both partners should openly discuss any sexual problems with the doctor, who will be able to offer you the help and advice you need to overcome hassles.
Inappropriate and disturbing sexual behaviour
When a severe TBI occurs, there can be some inappropriate and embarrassing sexual behaviour while the mind is healing from the trauma.
These behaviours can include touching and feeling their sexual parts as a way to express sexual feelings that they presently do not understand. Another example is that some folk will even try to masturbate in front of other people without realising the impact of what they are doing.
This type of behaviour is very difficult for family members to cope with. However if you appear distressed, it could make the injured person even more confused. Remain calm, and try to get the person to understand that the behaviour is not acceptable. Suggest that the bedroom would be a better place for this behaviour than the lounge. You might however have to repeat this more than once before it begins to sink in.
The doctor or therapist will the best option to help deal with the psychological issues of this inappropriate sexual behaviour which can result from a traumatic brain injury.
We can help
If you are recovering from a TBI and need some help to get your libido back on track, we can help.
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