Menstruation following Spinal Cord Injury
Globally there is limited research and information regarding the impact of spinal cord injury on menstruation. Menstruation has historically been a taboo subject within rehabilitation healthcare services leaving women having to seek solutions without support, often resulting in reductions in quality of life at that “time of the month”. Regardless of disability, women should be able to manage their menstruation safely and effectively in a convenient and comfortable manner however this is not always a reality. This presentation aims to explore menstruation and its management after spinal cord injury. Topics covered will include amenorrhoea, changes to menstrual flow, the impact of menstruation on bladder management, bowel management, skin, pain and spasms, menstrual product use and positioning, the need for carer assistance and possible management strategies, including suppression options. Ways of seeking support and who to approach will also be discussed.
About Helen Thrussell
Helen is an Advanced Practitioner Occupational Therapist who has worked at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital (UK) since 2004. During this time she has been based in adult, paediatric and outpatient services and is currently the lead clinician for female sexuality at the centre, advising on menstruation, sexual activity and pregnancy after spinal cord injury. Helen achieved a Masters in Advancing Spinal Cord Rehabilitation and Management in 2014 where her dissertation focused on menstruation and its management in spinal cord injured women. She has also published qualitative research exploring women’s experiences of sexuality after spinal cord injury.