Intimacy, Sex and Brain Injury

Intimacy Sex and Brain Injury Hand thumbs up painted red with word SEX written across in white lettersI know. I know. This image can be seen as a cheap trick on my part to draw you in? I really just want to make a bold statement about sex and brain injury!

To reinforce my view – that it’s OK to talk it. We should talk about it.

Many, many, subjects are written and discussed after brain injury – cognitive difficulties, role changes, returning to work – or not, partner becoming care giver, memory changes, behaviour, family life, loss of interest and motivation, eating, life plans, alcohol, impulsivity, egocentricity. On and on the list can go.

Every aspect of human life.

Well almost.

The topic rarely discussed – and more often discussed as “inappropriate behaviour” is

SEX and brain injury.


I have had private, intimate, discussions with many couples over the years, sharing their concerns at loss of intimacy, changed desires, and loss of sex life after brain injury.

Yet we rarely feel comfortable raising and discussing it in public arenas.

I have not often seen intimacy and sex carefully addressed in individual care or support plans.

In older people it is often seen as unnecessary. Some even view it as distasteful. Facilities separating couples. Instigating behaviour management’ programs when a person engages in sexual activity in their own room.

When it is written about, it is often in a clinical, rather than intimate sense.


Why talk about it today?

I too have been guilty of avoidance. It is on my list of topics to write about but it never quite makes it to the top.

This morning I found the impetus I needed. Spurred to action listening to the audio reading by Sonya Lea (link below).

Sonya Lea talks about her husband and their experience of brain injury in a clear, open, heartfelt way. Throughout the reading you hear personal experience of the outcomes of brain injury; the changes within relationship; AND losing and regaining intimacy and sex.

I found the reading to be a compelling listen. You could envisage the outcomes of brain injury described. You felt the impact on each other and on a loving relationship. Along the way there was a journey through some of the qualities and strategies for rebuilding relationship.

If I have not already convinced you – I highly recommend a listen (link above) and would welcome your comments.

You might also be interested in visiting the website “Wondering Who You Are” for more information.

Intimacy Sex and Brain injury Book cover Wondering Who You Are. Early photo of author and husbandThe great thing about Sonya’s openness – is that this begins a conversation that is rarely had.

It is being discussed in media outlets and online discussions reaching people who would not involve themselves in these topics. Albeit some headlines are even more sensationalist than I could come up with e.g. “Husband Forgets Sex After Botched Cancer Surgery”!

However headlines including the word ‘Sex’ grabs attention from people who may not pursue an article entitled ‘Intimacy Sex and Brain Injury’.

The interview is about so much more.

It would also be a useful teaching tool for people learning about brain injury and working with families.

Sonya has written a book of their experience “Wondering Who You Are”  I have not read it yet, as this morning was the first time I came across Sonya and Richard’s story.

Has any one read it? Please share your thoughts in the Comments below.

Or you could listen to “Wondering Who You Are” being read by Sonya which is what I plan to do very soon.  Well as soon as I finish listening to Ernest Shackleton’s voyage through Antartica.

Funnily “Endurance Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” has also mentioned sex.  The men, marooned on an ice flow for many months, try to remove all thoughts from their mind of home, intimacy and sex. Thoughts to painful to dwell on when removed from all that is familiar.

Maybe there is some cross over here with brain injury. It is hard to talk about intimacy, sex, loss and change when life is no longer familiar after brain injury?


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