Reproductive understanding, sexual functioning and testosterone levels in men with spina bifida

Ross M. Decter, Peter D. Furness, Thomas A. Nguyen, Maria McGowan, Connie Laudermilch, Annette Telenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Purpose: We assessed the sexual functioning and understanding in men with myelodysplasia. Materials and Methods: Of the 378 patients with myelodysplasia followed at our multidisciplinary clinic 170 are adults, including 58 men older than 18 years. A total of 57 men was available for interview. A questionnaire was administered to determine patient educational level, sexual understanding, sexual function and marital status, and serum testosterone levels were measured. Results: The majority of the patients learned about sexual reproduction from school classes with 48 (84%) having achieved a twelfth grade education or higher. A total of 41 patients (72%) accurately described the basic concepts of reproductive physiology. Penile erections were experienced by 41 men (72%) including 27 (66%) who ejaculated with erection. Three patients ejaculated without erection. Sexual intercourse was attempted by 20 men (35%). Of the 11 patients (19%) who attempted to father children 8 (14%) were successful. Twelve patients (21%) have been married, including 2 who are divorced. Serum testosterone levels in 44 patients were normally distributed. Conclusions: Sexual reproductive understanding, and erectile and ejaculatory function are present in many men with myelodysplasia. The level of the neurological lesion was not predictive of erectile or ejaculatory function but it appears that reproductive potential is favored by lower and less severe lesions. All but 1 of the 8 patients who fathered children had an L5 or sacral neurological level lesion, each was ambulatory and none had a ventriculoperitoneal shunt at the time of conception. These data may prove useful when counseling patients and their parents about eventual sexual performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1466-1468
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Urology


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