Woman suffered a hernia during sex – and it could have left her permanently disabled
- The 36-year-old suddenly developed numbness in her abdomen after sex
- She was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome which requires urgent surgery
- It affects roughly 3 in every 100,000 people in the UK and 7 in 100,000 in the US
A woman suffered a hernia during sex — and doctors warned it could have left her permanently disabled.
The 36-year-old developed an ‘indescribable sensation’ in her tailbone while having sex two days earlier.
The woman, from Temple, Texas, then noticed how the area around her tailbone had swollen and turned numb. Her legs also eventually became numb.
Doctors who treated her and shared her injury in a medical journal revealed she had suffered a hernia.
This led them to diagnose her with cauda equina syndrome (CES), a condition that, if not treated promptly with surgery, can cause paralysis.
The 36-year-old developed an ‘indescribable sensation’ in her tailbone while having sex two days earlier (stock)
The case of ‘intracoital lumbar disc herniation causing cauda equina syndrome’ was detailed in the Visual Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Writing in the journal, medics said there have been ‘few if any cases’ of it occurring before.
Cauda equina syndrome: what are the warning signs?
- Sciatica on both sides – where the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your feet, is irritated or compressed
- Weakness or numbness in both legs that is severe or getting worse
- Numbness around or under your genitals, or around your anus
- Finding it hard to start peeing, can’t pee or can’t control when you pee – and this isn’t normal for you
- You don’t notice when you need to poo or can’t control when you poo – and this isn’t normal for you
She had previously suffered a herniated disc, when a soft cushion of tissue between the bones in the spine pushes out.
But she did not have any fever and told medics she had never used any intravenous drugs.
As well as being unable to feel her legs, she was also unable to completely empty her bladder and complained of bowel incontinence.
Although the swelling alarmed the woman, it wasn’t painful.
Results for all routine physical exams came back normal, with no spinal tenderness or skin abnormality reported.
Neurological exams, however, spotted loss of sensation in the perineum — the area between the anus and the vulva — and the inner surfaces of the thighs, as well as the lower limbs, according to medics at the Baylor Scott and White Memorial Hospital.
An MRI scan also revealed an abnormality in her vertebrae.
A large herniated disc was also found between the fifth and sixth vertebrae, putting significant pressure on the nerve roots.
This all led to the doctors diagnosing her with CES.
The condition is a relatively rare surgical emergency which requires urgent hospital admission.
It affects roughly one to three in every 100,000 people in the UK, according to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
In the US, it is thought to impact around seven in 100,000 people.
The cauda equina — a bundle of nerve roots — control the function of the bladder and bowel.
Compression of the nerves, as is the case with CES, can lead to loss of sensation, incontinence and paralysis if not treated immediately.
Although there are many causes of CES, the most common is lumbar disc herniation — like the woman had.
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