Body image has a strong impact on an individual’s and society’s perceptions of sexual relationships.
Talking about sex/sexuality and people with a physical disability is often seen as inappropriate.
Our society still has a considerable way to move forward for this standard to fade away.
When sexuality and physical disability is discussed, it is often in purely functional terms, like fertility, technique and capacity to physically perform sexual activities. It commonly leaves out all the wider aspects of sexuality: feelings, affection, emotional and physical needs and desires and same-sex relationships. Sexuality brings with it a multitude of complex issues with its highs and lows, pitfalls and pleasures. These affect everyone, with or without a disability.
Impact of disability
This is not to say, however, that the individual impact of a disability should be ignored. Whether it is lifelong or acquired, disability or illness can potentially affect any aspect of sexuality. Questions about having children, retaining relationships or being able to enjoy sex can be raised. Some disabilities may cause a loss of fertility but this does not mean a loss of sexual function. If sexual function is reduced, it may be possible to increase it again. A loss of sensation in the genitals does not mean that sexual pleasure is no longer possible.
Keeping the discussion open about sexuality and acknowledging sexual needs and preferences allows disabled people to adapt to their own unique circumstances and both explore and enjoy their own sexual identity. Each disability affects each individual differently and responding to this in a sexual way will involve a high degree of personal consideration. This may involve experimentation with a variety of sexual activities or a variety of positions to achieve pleasure and comfort. Some people use sex-toys (vibrators etc.), additional lubricants or concentrate more on non penetrative activities. There are many erogenous and sensitive areas of the body, other than the genitals, and an enjoyable sexual relationship can discover these as well.
An essential part of fulfilling sexuality is communication. Openness between sexual partners can create the right environment to develop particular ways of giving and receiving sexual pleasure. Telling each other what you like and don’t like, and not criticising, builds greater understanding of needs and desires. Guide your partner(s) and be guided by them. Safer sex is equally important for disabled and non-disabled people, and other sections of this website give more detailed information about how to stay safer, happy and healthy.
Refer to this website for more info: www.disabilitynow.org.uk