One in four adults in the United States have some form of disability, and more than one in seven people have mobility issues. Moreover, even fully able-bodied people will likely develop a disability at some point in their life through aging (which we hopefully all get old enough to do), life-altering accidents, or chronic illness. However, there is almost no portrayal of sex and disability in mainstream media–an unfortunate circumstance since sex is fantastic for our psychological and physical health.
Many people with disabilities enjoy a full and pleasurable sex life, and nobody should be denied the pleasure and benefits of consensual sex simply due to their physical condition. In this article, we’re going to discuss some ways people who face more physical barriers than non-disabled people do can explore their sexuality with and without a partner.
Tips To Enjoy Sex With A Disability
Communicate with your partner- before and after
The biggest piece of advice for any person engaging with partner sex is always communication, and this is particularly important when there are physical obstacles such as mobility or chronic pain to navigate. Many people grew up thinking that sex is something that shouldn’t be talked about, which can make it difficult to share intimate thoughts, feelings, and desires. But without open communication, how is your partner supposed to know what you like or what your boundaries are?
Discussing sex before you start–either verbally or nonverbally–is essential for communicating what you’re comfortable with, what you’re able or unable to do, and also to share the closeness that leads to a safe and satisfying sex life. Dirty talk can even be a kind of foreplay that gets the gears revving for you and your partner.
If your mobility is extremely limited or moving too much is painful, describing sexual acts and fantasies you would like to enjoy with them, or that you have in the past, may be another way to have sex. Communication doesn’t have to be verbal; pointing, rubbing, or playful slapping (perhaps in a safe and consensual BDSM context) can get the point (haha) across.
Communicating after having sex is an important way to sum up your experience, and gauge what worked and what didn’t. If your partner doesn’t have much experience with your particular disability, or if sex is new to you, letting them know what you liked or what you would like to incorporate next time can be a great form of encouragement.
Play with hands-free sex methods and toys
Hands-free methods and sex toys, such as toys that use a remote or strap on to something, can open a world of possibilities. You can focus on building low-intensity pleasure while your partner plays with you, or simply enjoy having fun with yourself while totally relaxing and not having to worry about handling it.
Anyone can enjoy BDSM
If you’re into the kinky stuff, BDSM and kink provide a way to explore sexuality in new ways. Many disabled people find bondage practice therapeutic, such as a way to manage chronic pain. Of course, this is only in the context of a safe and consensual space, where boundaries have been clearly established beforehand and the physical limits of what you can do are clearly explained.
An added benefit of exploring bondage is that a lot of the toys and tools can be both practical and sexy for disabled partners. For example, bondage tape only sticks to itself and is great for holding things in the place you need them, so you can use it to wrap toys on your body or stick it on a pillow. Certain types of harnesses are fantastic at keeping a compatible dildo in place so that both people can enjoy penetration, and while sex swings may not necessarily be realistic to install in your home, at a sex party or dungeon they can be a great way to support people who have trouble standing on their own.
Take a class with your partner
There are many sex therapists or instructors who specialize in working with people with disabilities; this can be a great way to get started and get real-time instruction for the intricacies of navigating sex and optimizing pleasure with your disability. For example, if you’re curious about getting into BDSM but unsure about how to navigate it with your disability, there are instructors who specialize in helping those with disabilities explore the world of kink.
Having an experienced third party can also be a great way to explain to your partner the mechanics of sex with your disability. After all, the job of a professional instructor or sex therapist with experience in this field literally is to inform, so they’ll be able to guide you and your partner with the proper terminology and knowledge.
Be patient with yourself and your partner while you learn
Remember: There will be a learning curve. Everything is trial and error with sex, even for able-bodied people, so expect some awkward experiences as you continue exploring new things and learn about yourself and your partner- when handled with humor and grace, it could bring you and your partner closer together.
We all want to be satisfied, even though we know some people who will never be that way, and others who see satisfaction as a foreign emotion that they can’t hope to ever feel.
Peace and happiness can be difficult to catch. Finding the right balance that lets us get to all of the different goals that we have in place is not always as easy as we would like.