Sex and physical disabilities: Facts and prejudices
Most people with a physical disability have at some point been asked the question: "Can you have sex?", and not necessarily with the intention of starting a sexual relationship. It is probably difficult to give a specific reason for the question. However, there is no denying that there are a lot of misconceptions and prejudices when it comes to having a physical disability. To shed light on this, and to break down some of the stigmas, this article will go through some of the most common prejudices and show that sex is for everyone who wants it.
This article is written by Kathrine Madsen, 21 years old, who grew up in a family where her mother and sister have osteoporosis, with periods where her mother and sister have been wheelchair users.
Do disabled people have sex?
It is a common prejudice that people with a physical disability do not have sex, either because they are unable to have sex, or because they are attributed with a mental disability or a childlike mind and therefore do not think about sex like their peers. But sex and sexuality stem from an individual desire and a need that does not disappear because you are in a wheelchair, for example. So yes, disabled people also have one night stands, fuck buddies, threesomes or partners.
That said, a physical disability can come with some limitations that can manifest themselves whether you have sex with yourself or with others. Muscle tension, reduced mobility or lack of sensation are some of the challenges that a physical disability can bring when having sex. However, the idea that it is impossible to have sex is very far from factual.
How do you have sex as a wheelchair user?
The quick answer is: just like everyone else, and usually in the bedroom. First of all, it is a misconception that everyone is in a wheelchair for the same reason. Everyone is different, and so are their ways of having sex. Most people in wheelchairs have the same pleasure from and control over their genitals as everyone else, and therefore a wheelchair does not mean a lack of erection or orgasm. Having a physical disability does not mean that there is only one sexual position that works for you, or that you can only lie flat on your back. Of course, there may also be positions that can be difficult or hopeless to complete. But with a bit of creativity and imagination, and perhaps additions like pillows, a folded duvet or the use of the wheelchair, which can often be raised and tilted, it opens up a world of possibilities that can be explored and tried. It may take a little planning, creativity and assistance at first to find a good position. But finding out what each other likes and what works well is a shared exploration for everyone who has sex with a new partner - not just disabled people.
Sex is not just penetrative sex
Sex is so much more than just penetrative sex, and it's a fundamental misconception that you can't have sex if you can't perform penetrative sex. Sex can be anything from kissing, touching, giving massage; categories of sex that open up to oral sex, masturbation, hand-jobs or the use of sex toys. There are therefore many other ways to have sex other than having penetrative sex in a missionary position. Because come on, that would be too boring anyway.
Disabled people don't only date others with a disability
It is a prejudice that people with a physical disability only want to date someone who also has a disability. Seeking a like-minded, understanding and accepting partner does not mean that the other partner has to be in a wheelchair.
The prejudice that people with a disability only seek to be in a loving relationship with others who also have a disability defines a person by their disability, rather than seeing the person first. Being in a romantic relationship is no different whether you are in a wheelchair or not, and no one should be considered noble for dating someone with a disability, as both partners will bring something different to the table.
LGBTQI is for everyone
Like the rest of society, people with a physical disability can also identify as LGBTQI. However, because of prejudices such as people with disabilities being asexual, and therefore not wanting to have sex, it can be harder to be seen and accepted for a certain sexuality. Sexuality and preferences are, once again, a personal thing. It is therefore not a wheelchair that determines whether you are into your own, the opposite or both sexes.
Diverse sex education
Sex can be difficult for many people to talk about, but there's good reason to educate about sex and sexuality, while also making it inclusive and diverse. To overcome some of the prejudices that create barriers and can make it difficult to form a relationship with a partner, it requires a broader understanding of what sex is and what it can look like.
This can be done both in the primary school education and through representation in the media. Because sex is not only important for building a relationship, but can also be both physically and psychologically beneficial. So let's drop the prejudices and questions and let's agree that everyone can have sex if they want to.
Read also: Guide to masturbation for people with vulva
Read also: Guide to masturbation for people with a penis