Sex and disability: it’s about communication and experimentation

Sex and disability: it’s about communication and experimentation

Sex in films is romantic, passionate and above all, flawless. But in real life, no matter who you are, it’s never that ‘perfect’. It can however, be as thrilling and adventurous as you want it to be, with a little tinkering  (oh er!) and finding out what works best for you and your partner…

My name is Tiffanie Robinson and I have been married to my husband, Junior, who is a C5-C6 incomplete quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury in 2005, for six months. We met years ago when I worked in a local hospital as his nurse. We instantly became friends, and later I realised he was much more like my soul mate.

Throughout our relationship, we have often encountered an array of questions. Most of those questions, of course, revolve around sexual intimacy. As this is often a taboo subject, I welcome the chance to openly discuss sexual misconceptions and challenges. You’ll never know if you don’t ask, right?

So when I contemplated writing this article, I knew I couldn’t turn the opportunity down, especially if it meant helping another person with a disabled significant other or someone who is disabled themselves. For this article, I will write mostly from personal experience. Hopefully by the end, you will realise you’re not alone in this!

How do you have sex?

This is by far the most common question posed to me or my husband. My reaction tends to be a laugh, followed by a concise answer, whereas my husband’s first reaction leans more toward aggravation.

More often than not, my answer is simply: “However we want too!” A simple sentiment that breaks the ice. Paralysis invokes the assumption that everything, absolutely everything, is unusable. This is not entirely the case.

According to statistics on sexual health provided by the Christopher Reeve foundation, 79% of men with incomplete spinal cord injuries are able to achieve orgasm, while only 28% with complete injuries have the same result. Add to that the risk for Autonomic Dysreflexia (and over-active Automatic Nervous System that causes high blood pressure when stimulus is applied to the body, e.g. sex) and intercourse sounds like a major feat!

Communication and experimenting

The facts surrounding spinal cord injuries and sex are gloomy to say that least, but with some communication skills and experimenting, anyone with a disability can enjoy a rewarding sexual life. Modern medicine allows for uses of erection-promoting medications, penile injections, implants and manual devices. Not to mention the free option of experimentation!

For my husband and me, communication has been a great tool in our sex lives. Connecting on a deep emotional level, while being open to new ideas and at times weird reactions, has made my sex life with my husband by far the most rewarding I’ve experienced.

Sex aids and toys

My best advice is to make use of the more ‘natural’ aids before resorting to medications, injections or implants. Wedges are great for helping with positioning and/or toys can provide extra stimulation. Don’t forget, there’s much more than actual intercourse to delight and satisfy!

A wedge, capable of propping the chest up while lying on one’s stomach face downward, gives a quadriplegic the option of performing oral sex on his partner while she is in a more comfortable reclined position. Wedges are also useful in maintaining a side lying position or any other position one is too weak to hold entirely on their own.

Wedges can be purchased online at sites such as Liberator.  Sites like this one also have ‘sex furniture’, which provide a greater array of options for positioning and creativity. A chaise, for example, may provide more comfort than a simple wedge.

Manual stimulation pumps, used to promote and maintain erection, can be ordered from most medical supply stores. With a physician order, almost all insurance companies will pay at least 80% of associated costs, assuming you have a diagnoses of sexual dysfunction.

So, as my husband always says: “Where there is a will, there’s a way!” Apply this to your sex life and I promise you’ll be satisfied!! My husband tells me every day how beautiful I am and how much he loves me, and that is more of a turn on than anything else. He is the most handsome man I have ever met, with or without a wheelchair.

By Tiffanie

Check out…

Dating confessions of a 20-something disabled guy: part one
Faiza Siddiqui: my sex life after injury
Is it OK for disabled people to visit an escort?

Do you have any sex tips or stories to share with our readers? Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com or leaving your comments below.