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Life after a brain injury

Intimacy and sexuality

Intimacy is the feeling of being emotionally close to someone you know. Sexuality is how you express who you are through sexual actions, attitudes, and behaviour in relationships.

Love, affection, and sexual feelings are healthy things that most people need and want. When you don’t talk about your needs and wants, you may feel confused or that something’s missing.

The goals of rehabilitation include helping you to do as much on your own as you can and to have healthy personal relationships.

Information for partners

Most people have trouble talking about sex. Someone who’s very close to the person with the injury is usually the best one to help them relearn how to share their sexual feelings in the right ways.

Acceptance and trust are very important for intimacy and in a sexual relationship. If their personality has changed, you may have to get to know them again. And if there are physical changes, you’ll both have to adjust to these changes.

Sometimes a brain injury causes a person to:

  • forget how to properly respond or act in a relationship – For example, they may not understand when it’s the right time to kiss, hug, or touch you or other people.
  • not know when someone is flirting or giving other sexual cues
  • lose interest in sex
  • be less able to fantasize
  • not know what their partner needs

After a brain injury, most people don’t have a physical reason for sexual problems (such as not being able to have or keep an erection or have an orgasm).

If your partner now depends more on you and others, you may find it helps to take the lead in the sexual relationship. You may also find it helpful to:

  • give directions and cues
  • touch, caress, cuddle, and rest together to help you feel close – Hospitals don’t give you much privacy, but you can ask for private time in the hospital room or ask for a day or weekend pass.
  • talk about your feelings with a member of the rehabilitation team or someone you trust

Even if you find it hard to talk about sex, the rehabilitation team members are used to dealing with these issues and understand that you may be having these feelings.

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