How Does Disability Affect Sex?

People living with disabilities are often assumed to be asexual, which can have disastrous effects on their well-being. Humans are inherently sexual and, as such, deserve to have safe and pleasurable sexual experiences and be free to explore their sexuality and gender.

Key takeaways:
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    Many people within society view people living with disabilities as asexual, leaving them with little access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and education.
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    People living with disabilities are sexual beings and are entitled to safe and pleasurable sexual experiences and to explore their sexual and gender identities.
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    Mobility, fatigue, and pain can affect the sex of someone living with a disability. However, there are multiple toys and positions that can be used to help alleviate some of these issues.

Although limited mobility, pain, and fatigue may affect a person's sex life, certain toys and positions can aid in pleasure.

How does disability affect sex?

Having a disability can affect sex in several ways, particularly for people with limited mobility, chronic pain, and fatigue. However, this doesn't mean that those living with a disability cannot enjoy a healthy and pleasurable sex life, as having a physical or cognitive disability doesn't limit a person's sexuality.

Humans are inherently sexual and have sexual thoughts, feelings, desires, and fantasies. However, many people within society view people living with disabilities as ‘asexual,’ not wanting to have sex, or not experiencing sexual feelings. This stereotype can affect people living with disabilities in numerous ways, including diminishing self-confidence, desire, ability to find a partner, and ability to view themselves as sexual being. People living with disabilities exist along the same spectrum as nondisabled people, with varied sexual orientations and gender identities.

Those living with mobility issues and chronic pain may have to approach sex a little differently than they’d like to. However, there a sex toys designed specifically to help with this issue for those who’d like to engage in solo sex. For those wanting to engage in sex with a partner, several positions and tools can help alleviate pain and maximize pleasure.

How to maximize pleasure while living with a disability?

Give yourself permission to be sexual

Sadly, research has found that people living with disabilities often internalize the asexuality stereotype, which diminishes their sexual desire and arousal. However, all humans are sexual beings that deserve sexual pleasure. Permitting yourself to be sexual, both solo and with a partner, allows you to reclaim your sexuality and cultivate a pleasurable life.

Allowing yourself to be a sexual being has added benefits, particularly concerning sexual health, as those who are sexually autonomous have been found to make informed decisions about their sexual health, leading to healthier outcomes.

Use toys, tools, and positions that work for you

There are a number of tools, positions, and toys that assist people with limited mobility and chronic pain.

The Bump’n sex toy can be used in several different ways depending on your needs. It's designed to be a huggable pillow that you can insert a number of sex toys into to hump or grind on, which is great for solo play.

Sex wedges and pillows can also assist with placing your body in a position that is comfortable for you. Depending on your mobility and your partner's mobility, there are many different positions that you can use to increase pleasure. When exploring new positions with a partner, both partners need to be communicative and express what feels good and what doesn't. And remember that lube goes a long way in making things feel good.

How does disability affect sexual health?

As many people living with a disability are labeled ‘asexual’ by society, they often do not receive adequate sexual health care from health providers. Those living with a disability need regular pap tests, breast exams, prostate exams, and testicular checks, just like the rest of society.

People living with a disability who engage in sex need to have regular STI checks and have access to education on the importance of contraception.

People living with disabilities should expect to be treated as the whole person by healthcare professionals and expect to receive necessary sexual health care. If your health care needs are not taken seriously, we encourage you to advocate for yourself or access services available in your area to get the care you deserve.

People living with disabilities are not given comprehensive sexual health education

Again, as many people in society see people with disabilities as asexual, sexual education is often overlooked. However, sex and relationship education is just as important for people with disabilities as for those without disabilities. Sex education for disabled people should be given as children, with age-appropriate information. Additional information should also be covered, including:

  • People living with disabilities can have romantic, meaningful, and pleasurable relationships.
  • Sexual information that is specific to their individual needs.

Receiving this education allows people to live sexually healthy and pleasurable lives in healthy relationships.

Humans are inherently sexual beings deserving of safe and pleasurable sexual experiences, relationships, and sexual healthcare access, including those with disabilities. If you are living with a disability, you are entitled to be treated and respected as a sexual being. Although limited mobility, pain, and fatigue, may not allow you to have the sex you would like, there are toys, tools, and positions that can aid in pleasurable sexual experiences for solo and partnered play.

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Comments

Jordina Quain Jordina Quain
prefix 14 days ago
This was a holistic, respectful and sex positive article - thank you! As you've mentioned there are a lot of real challenges to achieving the gold standard of education, health and support for people with disabilities (mainly all relating to the systems and people around them!), but a crucial pursuit none the less. As someone who works in the field of sexuality and disability it was refreshing to read such a thoughtful article, thank you :)
Jeff H Silverman Jeff H Silverman
prefix 1 month ago
Your article is really positive about disabled people having sex and enjoying it. I think that's great. You have 2 references to authorities. That's good, as well. It means you've done the research. But one of those references is to STIs! I recognize that STIs are a major public health risk, and I admire that you bring it up. But don't stop there! Put in a reference or two or three about various ways of preventing STIs. That information is widely available, so put some of those references in your article so that it will continue to sound reassuring.