Sex and Spina Bifida

Spina bifida can have an impact on sex and sometimes fertility for people with spina bifida.  

For men, it may result in erectile dysfunction or ejaculation issues.  For women, there may be loss of sensation.  

Reduced mobility, and bladder or bowel leakage can mean sex needs some extra planning, and some of the effects of spina bifida on learning and behaviour can sometimes make it more difficult to judge whether another person is consenting. It is possible for most men and women with spina bifida to have fulfilling sex lives if they wish.  

Below are some common questions and answers, and there is additional information available to adults aged 18 and over which can be accessed by clicking the button below.

Over 18?  Click here for further information

I have latex allergy, what contraceptives can I use? 

If you have latex allergy, or if you are unsure if you have, it is very important you use latex free condoms to reduce the chances of an allergic reaction. These are readily available. If using diaphragms or caps, request and check these are free of natural rubber latex 


I have bladder leakage, how do I manage when it comes to sex? 

Many women with spina bifida find that provided they empty their bladder completely they don’t leak during sex. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can reduce the chance of urine infection, which can give urine an odour. Other women find that they leak during sex, and that talking freely and frankly with their partner can help find a way to manage. 

I can’t feel anything in the genital area, what do I do? 

There are lots of ways to have a fulfilling sex life, giving and receiving pleasure with a loving partner. Explore other parts of your body, either alone or together, to find out what feels good, and talk with your partner about what you want. 

Will I be able to have children? 

Most women with spina bifida find their chances of being able to have children are unaffected by spina bifida. If you take medication regularly, you may need to plan this carefully with your medical team, particularly if you live with epilepsy. We have more detailed information about pregnancy in women with spina bifida here.


I have erectile dysfunction (ED) What can I do? 

Many men with spina bifida have ED to some degree. There are a range of ways of overcoming this, the most commonly used and successful is medication, such as Viagra. Other methods are available, such as injections or implants, your GP will be able to support you as you find the right method for you. 

Will I be able to father children? 

Many men with spina bifida are able to father children naturally. Others may need some support from Assisted Conception services, as sperm may need to be collected. 

Over 18?  Click here for further information

Shine Health Advisory Service

Providing telephone and online support to anyone living with (or supporting someone with) spina bifida and hydrocephalus or related conditions.

The service operates between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. Closed on public/bank holidays.

Find out more

Donate Become a member