In our series on disability, sex and relationships, expert and resident agony aunt Tuppy – who runs Outsiders, a private club for disabled people looking for a relationship – answers your questions. This week she talks about overcoming issues in bed…
Dear Aunty Tuppy
I have just found the love of my life. We are both disabled (brain injury) and we went to bed together last week. The trouble was, I just could not get him inside me. It was like a brick wall had been built at the opening of my vagina. He was not a virgin like me, and he knew what he was doing but, perhaps because of his impairments, his movements were a bit jerky. He wanked himself off in the end, and looked disappointed. What on earth can I do?
We still chat on Facebook but the relationship is a bit tense, to say the least!
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You didn’t really tell me very much about yourself and your partner, or your brain injury, so I shall cover all the possible causes of your problem.
Women with cerebral palsy (caused by brain injury at birth) may experience spasms that tighten the vagina. Some are also unable to part their legs very easily, both of which can make sex a little trickier at first. One cure is to have an orgasm before sex (by hand or vibrator), which relaxes you, or you could try a massage. Also, botox injections can work wonders and stop spasms, sometimes for a long time.
Or it could simply be that you have a tough hymen, although one would think your lover’s jerky movements might have broken through that. I would suggest going to visit your GP or a gynecologist and getting them to advise you further.
Alternatively, you may have vaginismus. This is a well-recognised condition where the vagina automatically clams up when it’s owner tries to get something inside. If there is an obvious physical cause of the vaginismus, such as an infection or oversensitive nerves at the opening of the vagina (provoked vulvodynia), this may be treated with medication at the same time the vaginismus is treated. Your GP will advise you on this, too.
If the cause is less obvious, you may be taught self-help techniques to try to resolve the problem. You’ll need a medical sex therapist who can treat this with special vagina trainers. You can find such a therapist on the College of Sex and Relationship Therapy (COSRT) website.
Another possibility is that you have suffered an early trauma resulting in a fear of penetration. This trauma may have been caused by medical practice, sexual abuse or rape (here are two websites if you need more advice and support: Rape Crisis and Counselling and Therapy for Sexual Abuse). In this case you need therapy – some use sexological bodywork, Psychosexual Somatic practice or a Tantric practitioner, or a therapist trained in rape and abuse therapy.
You describe your boyfriend as jerky, but I wonder if he is simply not being careful, gentle or considerate? Having a clumsy, inconsiderate lover can make you clam up and not lubricate, which makes you dry and difficult to penetrate. Talk to him on the phone about trying gentle sex – using a condom and lubricant will help. Tell him he needs to ensure you are turned on and ready for penetration. Say you don’t want to have sex just to please him – you both need to want it and not feel afraid. There must be communication to ensure you pleasure each other as much as possible.
If you are sure that he is treating you respectfully and cares about your feelings and desires, I hope you can reassure your new lover that you are on the case, and will soon be able to enjoy penetration with him. Until that happens, there are plenty of other things you can do. If you feel comfortable, you could offer to give him the best blow job he has ever had. Not that you have watched him masturbate, you know what journey he takes himself on in order to reach an orgasm.
Blow jobs are wonderful because you can use your mouth, tongue, fingers and hands to pleasure him – slowly building up his excitement, and when he flexes almost reaching the moment of no return, you calm down and delay the orgasm, which is delicious for men.
You could also spread your legs for him to play with your vulva and clitoris so that you can enjoy receiving pleasure and orgasm too. Some men have the knack of working out what gets a woman off, but usually they have to watch you masturbating in order to learn, with your vibrator if you use one, or with your fingers. He may need to watch several times before he really learns what you like.
Some people say that 69 (when you stimulate each others’ genitals at the same time) is the ultimate pleasure, but most of us find doing both together at the same time too distracting and confusing.
If he flatly refuses to go down on you, or even play with your pussy and breasts to pleasure you and bring you to orgasm, ask him why. It might be because he thinks bodies, especially genitals, are dirty. Advise him otherwise. If he totally refuses to try, then I’m afraid he is a selfish bastard and you should find someone who treats you well.
I hope you sort out your problems and he turns out to be a wonderful lover. To help matters, buy some water based lubricant to keep by the bed.
If you’ve got a question for Tuppy and would like her help, please email her: AuntyTuppy@Outsiders.org.uk
Outsiders is a FREE social, peer support and dating club, run by and for socially and physically disabled people. Its members have a wide range of impairments, including visual and hearing impairment.