Quick Facts

  • Changes in sexual function are common following a brain injury and may include:
    • Reduced or heightened libido
    • Changes in the ability to become sexually aroused
    • Changes in physical ability ( i.e. erectile dysfunction, inability to orgasm)

What does it
look like?

  • Person no longer engages in sexual intimacy or intercourse
  • Intimacy and sexual intercourse “feel like it is with a stranger”
  • A person may become hypersexualized (refer to Disinhibition and Inappropriate Behavior)

Possible Causes and Complications

Possible causes:

  • Injury to the brain can impact motivation, initiation, and mood. It may also influence emotions related to depression, anxiety, and stress
  • Certain medications can result in reduced libido
  • Associated physical inquires can also impede an individual’s sexual functioning
  • Decreased self-esteem due to a loss of physical abilities can result in an individual being less likely to engage in sexual activities
  • Co-occurring illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease can reduce libido
  • Increased fatigue

Possible complications:

  • Changes in intimate relationships
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • If the individual is displaying hypersexuality, there is an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy as a result of unsafe practices

What can we do?

  • Recognize and accept that the individual may have this difficulty
  • Create open communication between you and your partner and discuss your
    expectations, fears and feelings
  • Work with a sexual health or relationship counsellor
  • Use energy preservation strategies such as engaging in sexual
    intercourse in the morning when their energy is at the highest
  • Find new ways to engage with each other (e.g. relearning who each other are,
    what interests they have, and new activities you both enjoy doing together)
  • Do not take it personally, recognize that the problem is due to a brain injury
  • Exercise sexual precautions, discuss with your doctor contraceptive methods
    and safe sex practices
  • Consult a doctor for information on medications that impact libido
  • Access mental health resources to address feelings of depression, stress and

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.