New Disability Blog – Disability and Sex 101
We can all feel insecure with our sexuality at times in this generation of selfies, filters and easy access porn. What if you have a disability as well?
I live with an ‘invisible illness’ which includes crippling fatigue and sore joints amidst a plethora of other symptoms. When it comes to sexy times and pressure, I’ve got more on my mind than my ever-advancing cellulite.
At the tender age of 28, I sometimes prefer to curl up under the covers with a cup of tea than get frisky. Does everyone feel this way too? You’d never know. So many people seem to want to signal that they have the sex life of Samantha Jones and the libido of Caligula.
To see how other people with disabilities might feel about disability and sex, I created a social media questionnaire. I only expected two or three responses, but was inundated with so many more. It was truly heartwarming to discover that people were willing to share their emotions and thoughts about such a sensitive subject. However, the amount of pain and self-blame was truly heart breaking.
Disability and Sex – Lifting the Taboo
Enjoyment and pain
Sex and disability has been called the last taboo. Experts have categorised society’s view of disabled people as asexual, perverted or contaminated. With these flattering tropes, steeped in hundreds of years of history and bigotry, it can be hard to break out and identify yourself as a sexual being when you live with a disability. Most people have body issues. But what if instead of worrying about fat rolls and weird hairy patches you worried about swollen joints or disguising walking aides and muscle spasms?
Finding sexual positions which alleviate pain and enable movement is viewed as a problem for the elderly, not young hotties. Pain can be a big problem during sex. You are constantly worried about how your partner is doing, as the last thing anyone wants to hear when getting jiggy with it is “Ow, that hurts…”
As one disabled woman responding to the survey commented, it’s about “trying to fight off the pain or not acknowledge it so you can actually enjoy what’s going on.
Learning about changing bodies
I personally find it increasingly difficult to love and find pleasure with a body that lets you down so much and spoils your plans on a weekly basis. I can’t imagine my body morphing into something I don’t recognise, but it could happen. Many women I spoke to complained about a substantial weight gain, whether due to medication or lack of movement. Not only are they struggling with the mental weight of living and thriving with a disability, there is also physical weight and the stigma which can, in the eyes of some, go with it.
Nudity and covering up
Interestingly, the consensus of a solution to this is lingerie. And lots of it! Many women responding to my survey expressed their discomfort in being naked, and felt some nice frilly things were a good distraction.
Everyone I interviewed agreed that having an understanding partner is very important. I am extremely blessed to have one who respects my limitations (even using that word annoys me!) and appreciates those days when I feel too sore and ugly to even think about sex.
So where does this leave us? Hopefully one day soon we will have a disabled sex symbol. But until that fateful day, I for one plan to keep talking with my fellow Spoonies to dispel myths and defy expectations! After a nap of course.
Follow Mookychick’s disability blog for more posts on disabled living.