Medical Video: Hayden's Story: High school football player recovers from spine injury
The spine is one of the most important parts of the human body. In addition to functioning to support one's posture, the spine also has a collection of central nerve fibers, one of which plays a major role in regulating the reproductive system.
Although vital, it turns out that this part is often injured or traumatized. Statistics show that spinal cord injury affects many men, especially in the fertile age range. The most common causes include traffic accidents and falls from heights.
So what if a man in childbearing age has a spinal cord injury? Does he still have a chance to have children? Or does this injury make it infertile again? Find out in the following review.
Parts of the nerve in the spine
Before understanding the impact of spinal cord injury on male fertility, first know the function of your spine. The human spine contains an extension of the central nervous system called the spinal cord. This collection of nerve fibers has various functions depending on the location in the vertebrae. There are three main functions, namely:
1. Sensory function
Along the back of the spinal cord, there is a collection of nerve fibers that are useful for receiving certain stimuli such as changes in temperature, pain, and others. This stimulus will be delivered upwards to the brain so that it can be translated and responded.
2. Motor function
This function is located at the front of the spinal cord. The command from the brain to move certain parts of the body will be delivered through this series of nerve fibers.
3. Autonomous functions
Autonomic function is useful for controlling various conditions in the body automatically and does not depend on one's conscious command. The urge to urinate and defecate is an example of autonomic function.
How do spinal injuries affect male fertility?
Although in each spinal cord injury the case varies, there is a possibility that the man will become infertile. Infertility of a man after experiencing a spinal cord injury is a combination of several functional disorders that should occur during sexual intercourse. The following is a collection of functions that are disrupted and can cause men difficult to have children after experiencing a spinal cord injury.
1. Erectile function
When receiving a stimulus, the body will automatically increase blood flow to the penis shaft and hold back the flow from that location to the heart. As a result, the penis becomes tense and ready to ejaculate. This mechanism is regulated by nerves in the spine which are located approximately as high as the lower back.
Injuries to the spine may damage the nerves that regulate the mechanism. As a result, you have difficulty achieving erection (impotence) so that it becomes more difficult to fertilize.
2. The function of ejaculation
The occurrence of the ejaculation process is a combination input from physical and psychological stimulation. Physically, ejaculation is regulated by nerve segments that are around a person's lower back. Injury to the segment results in disruption of a man's ejaculation process. Without ejaculation, men cannot fertilize a woman's egg.
3. Decreased sperm quality
Spinal trauma also has a direct effect on the production of semen and sperm cells contained in it. This can cause men difficult to have children, or it actually increases the risk of congenital abnormalities in babies who will be conceived by the wife.
4. Disruption of regulation of reproductive hormones
Some studies reveal that disorders of the spinal cord can affect the normal state of various human reproductive hormones. This will result in disruption of the production and maturation of sperm cells.
5. Increase the temperature of the testicles
The direct result of a spinal cord injury is the weakness of the leg muscles so that you will sit more. This phenomenon can have an impact on increasing the temperature around the testicles. In fact, the testis requires a temperature of 3-4 degrees Celsius lower than body temperature in order to produce sperm optimally.
6. Disorders of accessory glands
In the male reproductive system, there are several additional glands that function to support the life of sperm, such as the prostate gland. In men with spinal cord injury, prostate dysfunction was also found so that the resulting semen was of poor quality.