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sexual side effects from spine surgery?

terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:19 AM in Chronic Pain
i have had 4 back surgeries the past 7 years and until recently have had no overt side effects. one time i had ejaculation problems and they went away after my 3rd surgery. i have not had any sexual problems until my last surgery in april which was a fusion of the L3. in the past i have had L 4.5 fused with no problems. since my last fusion i have had some sexual problems which have not been extreem but problematic never the less. my dr recently gave me cialis to use and it has helped. has anyone had a partner or themselves suffered from ed problems after back surgery. it is not the meds or depression because it has only happened recently. my dr said with all of the nerves exposed, it is not surprising that this has happened, what do you think?
I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.


  • Interesting, I have had 4 lower back surgeries as well and have permanent nerve damage that goes down my left leg into my foot and have wondered the same thing. I have had a couple sexual encounters that didnt go too well unfortunately and Im only in my 20's. I have been thinking that the nerve damage combined with the meds may be causing me ED but have not seen a doctor about it.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I've had many lower back surgeries. In the beginning it was stress. But after L,3 fusion I lost libido. I beleive they cut some nerves. I've taken testosterone to no avail. with E.D. drugs I could preform, But I don't have the desire. Just one more thing to deal with! and I'm not that old. I'm not very comfortable talking about this. Just wanted to let you know your not alone.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • sounds like me also. a little ed plus no sex drive. i take androgel and have had shots also to no avail
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I have stenosis. No reflexes in left leg and my foot is perma numb. Im 47 and the little guy still works fine.

  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    Terror, I also used androgel to no avail. I put on 30 lbs. in 2mo. Stayed with it for about 6 mo. after reading of many bad side effects in website drugs A-Z I quite. I haven't tried anything else. If you hear of or try anything that works, please let me know.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • J. Howie

    When you tried the testosterone, did you have the blood levels checked? Should have been done before starting for a baseline, and then again after a few months on it. If you get it to the right level, it may work for you. I too must take some pain meds that heve interfered with my sex life where I nver had a problem before. By the way, Im 53. Yes, the Cialis, Viagra will enable you to perform, but does nothing for the desire problem. Thats where the testosterone worked for both problems for me. Might want to give it another try.

  • Ive heard zinc can boost your lowered testosterone levels. I used it in suppliment form when I was bodybuilding.
    Good luck to you guys.
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • I am wondering about something in particular. Are any of you taking anti-depressants? They will kill the libido. I was on Prozac for a year and I completely lost my sex drive. I happened to be a very young woman at the time, I still am in my opinion. But I was only in my very early 30's when this happened. Because of this I went off of the medication and found another that did not have this same effect. Last year when I went on anti-depressants again I mentioned this to my doctor and told him to give me something that would NOT affect my libido. He asked me "what would I prefer, less back pain or sex?". I told him that I wanted both of course! Sex happens to be one of the few fun and enjoyable things that I can still participate in. I'm certainly NOT willing to give that up unless I have to. My husband was put on "levitra" (I think) for nerve pain in his feet, he's diabetic, and he asked his doctor if that would affect his sex drive. His doctor said it would so he was switched to another medication. It's amazing what med's can do. Please don't get down about it and don't be so shy to talk about it. Women go through things like this also so we do understand. Please look into your med's and see if any of them may be the culprit. Good luck to all of you.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    Yes,Ive been on many different antidepressants over the years, trying to find something that would work for me.(I'm a backward med guy) I was on cymbalta 60 mg. and wellbutrin XL 150 mg. I thought the cymbalta was the culprit and tried to cut that out. But the withdrawals were to dangerous. So I went down to 20 mg. cymbalta and 150 wellbutrin. That didn't help. and I'm affraid to mess around anymore.
    Good luck to all, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • Talking about this particular problem shouldn't be something that anyone should feel uncomfortable about. Think about it, we all do it, we all want it, we all enjpy it, and we all have had a problem with it at some point. Everyone on earth will have a problem with this at some point in their lives. This should be a safe place to discuss this because there are so many people who will understand. And keep in mind, we are from all over the country, and the world, it's not likely that anyone will run into each other.
    Keep in mind also that stress alone can cause the sex drive to drop and ED to happen. Who here isn't under stress? Stay happy guys, this will eventually be figured out and in the meantime don't forget to just cuddle with your wives. Being held in our husbands arms is what we really want more than anything. Believe me, I'm a woman and would know how a woman would think and feel.
  • Wish I'd found this thread sooner, but here's another angle. I'm currently taking: Fentanyl patch, Lyrica, and Cymbalta every day with Lortab, Tramadol, Flexeril as needed. I've lost my sex drive as well but found out recently (with a little persuasion) I can still perform. However, after an honest two solid hours I gave up. Seems one of Cymbalta's side effects is an inability to achieve orgasm or ejaculate. Bummer. A lot of work for little reward (for me, my wife enjoyed it).

    "experience is what you get when you don't get what you want."

    Latest Procedure:
    Decompression, L4-S1 Fusion with rods & screws
  • I love your qoute abouit experiance, I've never really looked at it that particular way. I'm going to add it to my collection of favorites.
  • after i have my lower back surgery in may of 2007 2 6 inch rods 6 screews with cadaver bones to fill in the spaces and wire mess that was wrapped around the 4 lower dics. My ED is unreal. I lost alot of lenght and girth. Before the surgery i had no problems at all. could do it 4 or 5 times aweeks and still wanted more. Now i`m lucky to even think about sex once a mouth or even longer. When i do take viagra it helps some but the size and feeling is nothing like before the surgery. My doc said it would only last 5 to 12 weeks but its been over 18 mths and getting worst. hope this donr afend any one but i was 8 1/2 inch long and about 6 inch in girth. now i`m lucking if is 5 inch by 2 inchs
  • not just you guys having this problem. I had my last neck fusion March 2008 and I have no desire anymore.(My poor husband) But, mine is the fact that sometimes it causes pain so I think Iam just afraid to "go there", I really feel bad for my partner though, not very fair to him, but he is very understanding.
    I just wanted you guys to know that we women also have sexual difficulties as well.
  • I didn't have a problem in general until my last med increase. Prior, I have had times when I was unable to climax or it took forever. These were usually accompanied by bladder issues/numbness.

    But since the med increase, it is very hard for me. When I (or my husband) have taken ANY antidepressant, even Wellbutrin, sex drive was ZERO, period, end of it. I get sad, because I truly get much pain relief from the end result.

    I am getting the spinal cord stimulator soon (hopefully tomorrow but it might be postponed) and I will be working very hard to get back down in meds where I can still have some sense of sex life. Hubby has a really low natural drive, so it isn't causing stress in our marriage. I'm just sad.

  • i not only have problems related to back surgery i also suffer from prostate infections which have caused e.d. problems occasionally. however the major problem is not the angle of the dangle but the lack of sex drive. androgel and shots work a little sometimes but sometimes they don't. my testosterone levels are normal when i use shots or androgel, but before they were very low. now prostrate infections are back after 3 years of not having them. i get a 104* temp and barf and i am so sick i can't even go to dr or take a shower. i take antibiotics to cure. then with the infection i get an occasional kidney stone due to change in ph levels of urine. so back and prostatitis i suffer from bad sexual problems. shots do help sometimes but about 75% of time they don't work and if i have desire about 50% of time i need cialis for erections. anyone have similar problems or help to increase sex drive. also what was suggested was my narcotic meds lower sex drive also. wife got really upset a couple of months ago but now she seems more understanding. hopefully she has not gotten another partner, but we have been married 22 years and i don't think so. i usually know if there is, but it seems not to be

    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • As long as you let your wife know how much you love her, and keep up the affection, don't worry about her straying. I'm taking a guess here and suggesting that maybe when she was angry that it could have been from the fact that she felt you were no longer interested in her, not in sex itself, but her. This would be a normal reaction from a woman's point of view.
    Although my husband and I haven't come across this partcular problem on his part, I went through no sex drive for awhile though, I love him way too much to look outside for physical gratification. We've been married for 21 years, and if for some reason that he could never function again I could live the rest of my life that way as long as he was still affectionate with me. As long as I knew his love for me hadn't changed. Maybe take this time to connect on a different level, do something different together, or even please her and leave it at that.
  • Dear Cherish,
    It took some courage to post this here and I applaud you for it. I wish you the very best and hope that the new procedure really helps. I also believe that if us women open up and talk about sexual issues it will help the men to feel more comfortable to talk about it as well.
    It's an honest and healthy subject and no one should feel any shame or discomfort over this. It is indeed a problem for both men and women alike. I know there has to be more people on here who are suffering in silence and I would like to help break down that wall.
    Good luck to everone! Remember, it's not the end of the world and there are always worse things that can happen in life.
  • I have lost my sex drive since surgery as well. It doesn't hurt while I am doing it and actually makes me forget about back pain temporarily but my lumbar hurts pretty bad afterwards. Also, my husband has a low sex drive and the only time he seemed to be at his peak was when he was on antidepressants for the first time in his life. He took them for about a month but then wouldn't take them anymore. He is always harping on me for taking meds and doesn't beleive in them so he went off them. I try to encourage him to take them again but he won't do it. I think if things in my life were better and happier, I would have a better sex drive. So yes men, us women do suffer the same thing too so I hope our stories help you to share yours more comfortably.

    It is so nice to be able to talk about anything on this site and with people who truly understand.
  • I TOTALLY lost any desire to have sex when I was on either Oxycotin, Methadone or MsCotin, of course all at different times. Not only was I crabby cuz I never wanted it but the hubby was taking it personally. I would "cave in", I couldn't achieve orgasm. I dont mean to say cave in as in, gosh if I have to I dont want to but I will, I have always wanted it and just didn't really care if I was getting it or not. Me NOT achieving orgasm didn't have anything to do with him at all. I would feel like I was going to and then it would go away. And of course I told my hubby that yes I did, because I didn't want him to get more of a complex. I dont blame my hubby for getting a complex at all. If I was in his shoes I would feel the same way! I have ALWAYS enjoyed our time and I think I was making the fact that I didn't want it worse by stressing on WHY I didn't want it. Now the strange part is that if I had external stimulation I could orgasm. BUT that was the only way. It was almost like I had no feeling internally. STRANGE!!!! So I stopped the Methadone and was able to sleep and got my drive and desire back 10 fold. LOL Then once the MScotin kicked into my system it all started over again. So the doc switched me to Oxycotin I was fine for a bit then once again I couldn't care less if I had sex. So that was gone also. Now mind you I was on low doses of these three meds. I think they were 10 mgs or so. It has been awhile. Now that I am just on short acting oxycodone 10's I have the drive and desire back! BUT I have noticed that when I take 6 pills in one day instead of 4 I dont have the drive. I am allowed 6 per day but only take 4. When I have my bad days or weeks I have the extra meds for that. So I have chopped it up to my pain meds.
    Now I had my L5-S1 fusion back in 2004. My NS did the fusion from the front only and there is of course only hardware in the front. I have regained the pain back but 3x's worse as I was before surgery. I have never been completely out of pain since the sugery. The only time the pain wasn't that bad was while I was pregnant. I had a Myelogram and CT done and find out tomorrow what the results are. I have had at least a dozen injections and EVERY ONE of them have made me worse or created pain in that area where I haven't had pain before. I have noticed that my drive and desire has decreased slitely but I think it is from the stress of the pain and not knowing what is going on.
    Talk to your doc once again about his issue. It could be from your pain meds also and not just the nerves or the surgeries that you have had. It is so nice that we can ALL come to this board and post anything that is going on with our lives and others are willing to share their experiences.
  • That was the real culprit in my opinion. I am going off as many pain meds as possible after spinal fusion (T10-S1) in June. Cymbalta was my first choice to go off of. Not sure of the results, yet. I'll let you know. :) My cardiologist (of all people) was the only doc who realized Cymbalta could be a problem.

    Unfortunately, now I feel really sad in the evenings when I'm in the most pain, so I'm not sure how this is all going to work out.

  • Arrette, I think you're right. I can't hit a home run anymore and it feels like I'm severed from the waist down.
  • Wow! Never heard of that and I am googling it for more info!! Very very interesting. Gives me some hope! (But sorry, I'm female! lol)

  • I get that feeling often Straker! Most often when I meditate even if it's in the middle of my day. Thank you for mentioning this! I feel lucky, VERY lucky, now that I know what it is, <:P <br />
    I'm not interested in sex because it causes increased pain. Even helping myself lands me in more pain by using my stomach muscles that hurt my back. Although sexual contact still feels great in the moment, I feel self-conscious because I can't do the things I was once able to do, so I feel like less of a woman in this way. I'm not sure what it would be like if I found someone I love or was highly attracted to, but I hope to find out!!! :X
  • as many of you know i am in a lot of pain and i take an awful amount of meds {oxycodone} and since my last operation i have not been able to obtain a full erection .and when we have tried to have sex i can't bear any weight across my hips so woman on top is out and like most men after back surgery man on top is out ..so in a nut shell we don't tent to bother .BUT one night at around 4am {my usual wake up in pain time!} something strange happened .i went for a wee and as i finished i got a sharp short pain in my pubic bone region ..it stopped as soon as it came {if you will pardon the pun!}by the time i had returned to bed {about 4 mins from bathroom to bed room} i had forgotten about it.
    THEN as i am lay in bed something very strange !both my legs went cold then i felt VERY relaxed VERY VERY relaxed then i got a warm glow ..first around my belly button area then down both my legs then all over my body ..there was a pulsing around my belly button {just a bit lower } it was the nicest feeling that i have ever had it lasted for 45mins!!!!! i did not have a pain in my body for hours afterwards {no i was not dreaming} i eventually plucked up the guts to tell my doctor .he said that i had had a full body orgasm {a spontaneous one at that!} god i wish that they could put that feeling in a pill .because it would be the best selling pain killer in the world...every night i hope that i will have another! has anyone {male }had this happen to them i would really like to know ?? email me if you are embarrassed tony.beer1@googlemail.com
    aka STRAKER
    PS i say male because my wife tells me that most females are able to achieve a full body orgasm with or with out men !
    lucky bxxxxds!!!
  • and thought this would be the best place, I think. But today, hubby and I had our first intimate time since the SCS permanent placement and it was, welll........amazing. I don't know if it was because my pain is so relieved, if the leads are in just the right place, or WHAT, but OMG. It was amazing.

    I don't think my nerves have worked right in years, starting at the traumatic birth of our first son almost 20 years ago, but what I was able to experience today took me way back. I almost cried. Honestly.

    We turned the program fairly high and I was very careful not to do anything that would mess up the leads placement while we wait for it to scar down. But the sensation was something I thought I'd never feel again. Maybe this is how everyone else feels all the time - it's been so long, I can't remember!!

    I think our spouses really go through the emotions from grief at missing our "old" lives to worry about if they will hurt us, will we get worse. This SCS appears to have not only improved my life but put my husband's fears at ease, which I am so thankful for.

    Has anyone else experienced this with the SCS? My previous doctor mentioned a little bit about that (and that some patients get a program that puts them almost in a constant state of "finale", but no one else has said anything that I've even read online.

  • Maybe I should get the SCS!! LMAO! I know my OLD PM said they wanted to do the SCS due to severe nerve damage. He said that the Nerve test backed him up on the severe nerve damage. NOW get this....I went to a different doc whom did the same test and he said the nerve test came back fine, that there was NO nerve damage. I actually feel that he was doing the SCS for the money. Not only because of the above mentioned thing BUT he had told me that if I was older or in my 70's or more that he would just keep medicating me instead of concidering the SCS. He told me that the SCS would greatly benefit me BUT WOULDNT benefit anyone over 65! NOW get this!!! Just about EVERY patient of his I had seen they had the SCS, I had even seen about 10 different elderly people with it. One gal I was talking to was 82 and she even had it. So yah I think he was in it for the cash. I do want to ask my NEW PM if he thinks this will be beneficial IF the facet joint injections and the nerve ablasions dont work.
    Anyway sorry I got off the subject! LOL But yah Cheri I AM STINKING JEALOUS!!!! Just RUB IT IN! LOL
    But yah good for you! I would say you need to test the senerio and see if it is from the SCS. So like tonight turn the SCS down and see and then around 2am turn it up a little and try again and so on and so on. =)) =)) HAve fun testing!!! MJ
  • We got our insurance paperwork today and as far as money? I don't know - the anesthesiologist who did the trial (which was a nightmare!! and I ended up with 2 leads, although they had to turn one off because it was in the wrong place) - billed insurance $28,000 and got paid $7500. For a very difficult procedure, 2 leads and 4 times the normal time it takes him to do anyone else's trial.

    My programmer told me that in the past, many docs would try NOT to do the SCS because of the pitiful reimbursement (and they got so much more money from insurance doing injections and other choices.) She said that her company, ANS, has made some changes that the providers will get more reimbursement. So I was wondering if insurance has something to do with people not getting the SCS easier.

    My experience was that I had to almost beg for it, as if it was the last thing this doc here wanted to do for me. (My previous doc in a former state told me I was perfect candidate for the SCS, but to let him know if and when I was interested. I was in deep denial, never got it and then went through all this crud over here trying to finally move forward with the SCS once I decided the pain was too much.)

    But, on other boards, it does seem that many docs do push the SCS on their patients. I don't think you or anyone else should consider the SCS if you are able to live your life relatively well, with other things that work. For me, nothing did. I lived in a recliner 23 hours a day, on major meds and in horrible pain. A "good" day was a 5 out of 10 and I rarely had a good day.

    I knew I had permanent nerve damage because of the sensations (or lack of), my lateral numbness on both legs/thighs/calves/feet/toes, etc. for almost 4 years. While I waited for my "nerve to heal at 1 cm a month, they never did. Ever. Not after any of my 3 surgeries, which the 3rd one did finally stabilize my back, but I believe my nerve damage has been from 2005 the very beginning of my journey. I knew before any doctor did that my nerves were shot and when I had the EMG confirm it, I was devastated but validated at the same time.

    So, I guess I'm trying to say......if you do find yourself with nothing else working, don't be scared to try. But it is another procedure, implanting something in your hip, and that shouldn't be taken lightly by someone who has pain control otherwise. But it would be confusing to have completely conflicting test results!!

    I've had mine since last Monday, the 5th, and it has been so wonderful. I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but I have promised to share my experience, good and bad, just so far, no bad. Well, except for the hellish trial and permanent placement actual procedures, which I did share. But beyond the procedures (which were nightmares due to scar tissue), my recovery has been easy and my relief - words don't describe. (Although I clearly try to find words, many many words. LMBO).

    Take care!!

  • Cheri,

    I'm so happy for you! Never told a stranger I was happy they had sex before but, hey, there's a first time for everything. It sounds like you have a great time. It must have been wonderful.

    Please pray for those of us who haven't been able to, that we can again.

    Have LOTS of fun!

  • back pain and surgery does strange thing to the libido and sexual function. before my first fusion, ejactulation did not happen. i had orgasms but no ejaculation. after surgery, i could ejaculate. my dr told me that there are all sorts of nerves that interfer with sex. erections can also be effected by pressure on nerves. thank god for viagra. now all i need is something to help sex drive. i could have the hooter's girls sit on my lap and it would be like having a ham sandwich on my lap. i do have some interest, but not like i used to. androgel and injections of testerone does not help. i used this because the levels were way below normal. at first i felt like a 16 year old, but now it does not seem to work. all i do now are monthly injections
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
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