In my work as a sex educator, surprisingly one of the most common themes I've seen is that newly disabled people think intimacy is over because of their new or progressively worsening situation. While this is an understandable phase to go through, what's truly sadder is that we believe sex to be only for able-bodied people.
Repeat after me: we deserve intimacy, we deserve love. That doesn't stop when your physical needs change, and in fact due to the psychological trauma you might suffer in the adjustment period, you may need more intimacy and love. Many able bodied people believe sex ends where a disability begins, but that’s far from the truth! If you’re disabled and trying to figure out how to meet your psycho-sexual needs, let's chat!
First, let’s debunk a couple of myths.
- Disability does not equal fragility. Contrary to popular belief, a disabled person isn’t just going to fall apart during sex. A lot of people become very uncomfortable when they learn about someone's disability, and even if they are romantically involved they are afraid of sexual contact with their partner. This can cause frustration and depression in the disabled partner, and adds stress to the relationship. Sex is a healthy part of relationships, and should be discussed openly between partners.
- People with paralysis are sexual beings. The sex is new and different, and takes some adjusting to, but sex with consent is still pleasurable. Not only is sex more than penetration, but it is of course intimacy, and being physically close. A disabled person is still able to be sexually involved with someone without sex taking place, and a wide majority are able to partake in penetrative sex without issue. Orgasms are a bit different for paralyzed people; they can still be achieved but will be felt higher up in the body, above the paralyzation.
- Spinal injury, weak lungs, etc does not end sex. There will be limitations but there are still plenty of positions and activities to engage in, including use of favorite sex toys. It is more about intimacy but doesn't mean the end of pleasure.
If sensation is felt in particular areas, you need to learn how to engage that area. There are erogenous zones all over the body including in the feet, calves, neck, ears, shoulders, and more! This means that while the genitals may not be able to feel everything, sexual pleasure can still be derived from all over the body, depending on each person's affected area.
One of the most common areas are the nipples, and these Vibrating Nipple Lassos can be a fun start. They offer hands free stimulation and allow adjusted tension. If those aren’t your style or you want to offer even more in depth stimulation around the body, you can try the IPO Finger Vibe. This vibe is small and fits around a finger, meant to be used internally or externally. It has twelve vibe settings and multiple speeds, all able to be sorted through by just clicking.
For those of you that have problems with finding comfortable positions you should try the Inflatable Position Master! The Position Master is a single inflatable cushion, and can hold up to three hundred pounds. It has handles on the side to allow gripping, and is designed to aid in a wide variety of positions while keeping the body at low work exertion.
Lubricant is always important, and if you are dealing with someone who lacks feeling below you will need to be extra careful about using the proper amount of lube. The JO H20 is a water based lubricant designed to be super silky, easy to wash off, and latex safe!
Disabilities are not the end to sex, but a new beginning to intimacy exploration. If you are figuring out how to deal with your own disability or a partners, a discussion is the best place to start. The disabled community can always benefit from the experiences of others, so if you have any intimacy stories to share, please do so in the comments!