This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Sexuality and Intimacy After Burn Injury. Dr. Steven Wolf, researcher, discusses challenges to sexuality and intimacy after burn injury.

Steven Wolf, M.D.

Burn Model System

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

So the challenges that people face in terms of sexuality and intimacy after injury are really in three areas. One of them is anatomic. Does the skin work in the right way around the areas that it needs to be working properly? That depends a lot of that is on what phase of the wound healing you’re in.

And early on we usually let it go. As the scar matures, we may need to move stuff around or at the very end, yes, this ain’t working, we can do something. There’s usually something we can do anatomically as surgeons. That’s the physical part. Okay?

Then there’s the physiological or the pharmacological part. So remember we’re treating you with a lot of medicines generally for pain control or for neuropathic kind of issues or metabolic kind of stuff that again is all going to go away with time. But that can kind of get in the way of other physiology. And so any medicine we use, there’s a balance that we want to get this effect but there’s usually some down side problems with it. And so how do we manage all that stuff?

And then part of that is normal human conditions of, you know, as you age things don’t work as well. And so how does that get together with the burn injury and the anatomy that’s part of the thing there. And then the last one is purely the emotional part of it. And sexuality and intimacy is a very emotional thing. In fact, almost completely. There’s some physical parts of it was well. But there’s a very much of an emotional psychological component that have to be addressed.

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