A variety of aspects of everyday life can be affected when someone has a physical disability. This includes sex. However, sex and disabilities are a taboo topic that is seldom discussed, even by healthcare providers.
It is important to break down the barriers to discussing sex and disability because everyone—regardless of their ability status—is deserving of pleasure and sex education. Sex can also play a crucial role in maintaining psychological health and healthy relationships.
We will be discussing sex and disability for persons with spinal chord injuries. Paraplegia (paralysis in the legs) Quadriplegia (paralysis of the arms or legs). This article will provide tips and answers for those who have questions about this topic.
Can paralysed individuals have sex with others?
It’s not uncommon fOr people to ask, “Can paraplegics have sex?” or “Can quadriplegics have sex?” Both of these questions can be answered by a clear yes.
Just because you have a loss of movement or sensation in some parts of the body doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t have sex. It doesn’t mean that you don’t desire it, either.
Paralysed persons are often mistakenly assumed to be sexually oriented, which is incorrect. Andrew Gurza is a disability awareness consultant who hosts the show. Disability After Dark podcast, “There are disabled people who are indeed asexual, but to assume people are asexual because of disability is ableist and says more about you than them.”
So don’t make assumptions about someone’s sexuality based on the fact that they have a disability. Don’t make assumptions about a disabled person’s genital function, either.
There is a wide range of genital function in people with spinal cord injuries. This is dependent on the location and severity of the injury. As an example: Research has revealed Many people with these injuries, including quadriplegics, can still have the same symptoms. Reflexive arousalThis is genital stimulation that causes arousal, such as the penis becoming more erect, or the vagina lubricating.
Spinal cord injuries don’t necessarily impair orgasm, either. For example: In one study, quadriplegic males were examined38% of respondents reported being able to have an ejaculatory orgasm.
However, even if genital functioning is impacted to some extent, this doesn’t necessarily mean that sex is no longer pleasurable. “Even if their genitalia doesn’t work in conventional ways, that doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying themselves,” Gurza says.
For this reason, if you—or your partner—have a spinal cord injury, it’s important to communicate and avoid making assumptions. It is important for the disabled partner to have space to express their feelings and to find solutions for their body.
When one or both partners have a disability, sex might not look exactly like the sex you’re used to seeing or that you might see in the world of porn. It’s therefore important to be open-minded and to be willing to explore and experiment a little based on each partner’s accessibility needs.
Paraplegia, which is a condition that causes impaired mobility and sensation in the legs, allows for a wide range of sexual activities. You may find that they can perform modified versions of many traditional sex positions (e.g., face-to–face intercourse or doggystyle sexual activity) while seated in wheelchairs. Here You can find a detailed description of possible wheelchair sex positions here.
Oral sex, anal sex, kinky sex—it’s all potentially still on the table. You have to be flexible and creative in order to find ways that work for you and your partner. This might mean using sex toys more or pillows, wedges or other tools to give the required level of support and comfort.
Quadriplegia is a condition that results in impaired mobility and sensation in the legs and arms. This means that quadriplegia sufferers need to be creative and flexible. However, there are some considerations that might not be obvious.
If there are more problems with genital function than you think, then other sexual aides may be available, including penile injections or vacuum pumps, penile injections, cock rings, and penile implant therapy. Artificial lubricants can also be used if the vaginal lubrication has been affected.
However, keep in mind that sex—and even orgasm for that matter—doesn’t have to be all about a focus on the genitals. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily have to have a genital component at all. For example, people who suffer from spinal cord injuries may learn how to create new areas for erogenous purposes. When genital sensation is lost completely, certain parts of the body may become more sensitive such as the ears, neck, and neck.
It may even be possible to learn to orgasm from stimulation of these other body areas, because we know that—even in able-bodied people—genital stimulation is not essential for orgasm. What we’re talking about here are Non-genital Orgasms, and they’ve been known to occur from stimulation of the nipples, lips, and other parts of the body.
A partner can be a great starting point for someone with disabilities. Masturbation or body exploration is often the best way to get started. You may need to be patient and take time to find what is best for you and your body. Communicate with your partner.
What it’s like to have sex with a paraplegic or quadriplegic partner
If your partner develops a spinal cord injury or you otherwise become intimate with someone who has such an injury, the truth of the matter is that sex itself probably won’t feel all that different for you, but it may look different from the sex you’re used to having.
I’m sure you know by now that consent and communication are key when it comes to having great sex—and this is true whether your partner is able-bodied or disabled. Open-mindedness and flexibility are key in the contexts of sex. You need to be willing to explore new positions, new activities, and new toys—and you need to be willing to take a more expansive view of what sex is.
It’s important to toss the old sexual scripts aside and work with your partner to come up with a new script that takes their wants and needs into account.
It is also important to change your mindset. Don’t think of sex and disability as inherently limiting—think of it instead as liberating. Sex doesn’t have to look a certain way or follow the standard narrative. Both you and your partner have the ability to personalize it and define pleasure according to your preferences.
Spinal cord injuries do not have to be the end of your sex life—and they don’t have to be the end of great sex, either. Unfounded stereotypes and assumptions about disability and sex are not the best way to navigate sex after injury. Instead, you need to dismantle old sexual scripts and embrace creativity in the bedroom.
Justin Lehmiller is a social psychology researcher at The Kinsey Institute. He is an award-winning educator having been recognized three times with the Certificate for Teaching Excellence from Harvard University. Dr. Lehmiller has published more than 50 academic works, including a textbook titled “The Psychology of Human Sexuality” that is used in college classrooms around the world. Through his Sex and Psychology blog and workshops, Lehmiller helps people to maintain healthy intimate relationships.