Sexy Wheelchairs: Sex for the Disabled

sex after disability

But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.  1 Corinthians 7:7

This post was born out of my curiosity of sexuality among those who are physically disabled.  This may be a strange question for some, but for others, it is totally and completely relevant.  Many people put little thought into disabled sex.  Others assume that people confined to wheelchairs or types of devices do not experience sex.  Not only is that inaccurate, but those with physical disabilities can have sex lives that are just as sexually satisfying or even more so than people who are in great physical health.

Challenges

I don’t typically like to start a post with challenges, but for many people, this is the first thing you consider about disability and sex, especially if you were confined to a wheelchair later in life, when you’ve already experienced non-disabled sex.  If this is the case, things are going to be different.  There will be obstacles.  There will be concessions you’ll need to make in regards to your sexuality.  You will need to let go of the old sex you knew, and embrace the new sex you will discover.

Depending on the level of injury, you may find it difficult to achieve erection, ejaculation or produce vaginal lubrication.  There may be a limited or complete loss of sensation.  You may have a catheter to work around during sex.  You may not be able to have sex in some of the positions you used to enjoy.  And that’s not to mention the emotional and mental turmoil you may be dealing with in the loss of your mobility.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

While there may be challenges associated with lovemaking as a paraplegic, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy sex and have great orgasms.  Your sexuality CAN be adapted to your new physical condition, you just have to be willing to learn about your new body.

Positions Will Change

Obviously, if a man is paralyzed, he won’t be having stand up shower sex or have much luck with missionary position.  But there are many positions that can work with rather than against your new body.  This picture from Streetsie.com shows some great positions for wheelchair sex:

wheelchair sex positions

Positions that may have been great before may not feel all that great now, or maybe you won’t be able to do those positions at all.  Don’t be afraid to try new positions with your spouse and “think outside the box” doing things that you’ve never tried before.

You May Need Help

Physically and/or mentally.  Physically, there are many aids that you can use to rediscover your sexuality.  A sex wedge or sex swing can help you get into position comfortably and effectively.  Sex toys such as personal massagers or anal toys can offer more intense sensations if you’ve suffered a loss.  Lubricants can help with vaginal dryness and medication such as Viagra can help with obtaining and maintaining erection.  There are also even very specific devices, such as the IntimateRider that are made specifically to enhance intimate relations for those who suffer from a disability.

love in a wheelchair

Mentally, you may want to seek help from a counselor and/or sex therapist.  Losing your mobility means you have to relearn almost everything physically.  Being able to maintain your self concept and understanding that your mobility does not define you as a person takes time and intentional effort.  I would highly suggest some sort of individual and marital counseling, as both spouses are affected when one suffers and injury that leaves them without the use of their legs (and possibly arms).

What If I Can’t Feel Anything?

Depending on your injury, you may no longer be able to experience orgasm.  This is a hard pill to swallow, but you may find that even without orgasm, you can still find fulfillment in sex with your spouse.  Our society puts a great deal of emphasis on orgasm, and that’s not completely unfounded.  Orgasm is the physical release that we yearn for through sex.  And even if you can’t feel anything, it doesn’t mean you won’t still crave that release.

But the truth of the matter is, it may not happen.  You may have to redefine what sex means in your relationship.  Sex is vitally important not only for physical release, but for intimacy in your marriage.  Don’t give up on sex because you have to let go of the orgasm.  Learn to appreciate the deep pleasure of closeness and pleasing your spouse sexually.  An article on ynaija.com quotes a 36 year-old paraplegic Barry West:

‘Disabled people have needs the same as anyone else. After my accident, my physical ability was taken away, but I still have the same mind. I have no feeling in or control of my penis but I am still able to please a woman,  so I do still enjoy sex, just in a different way. I found my own way.’

Don’t define sexuality by orgasm.  Define it by the fulfillment of being one flesh with the person you love deeply.  By the the intense pleasure your body is capable of providing.  By the closeness and intimacy of your spouse’s naked and vulnerable body.  And appreciate the sensations you CAN enjoy (like your spouse’s taste, the feel of your fingers on him or her, their smell).  You can enjoy sex, no matter the level of your disability.

Opening the Discussion

support for married paraplegics

Sadly, many physicians don’t tackle the issue of sexuality head on with their disabled patients.  Granted, sex may not be the first thing on your mind when you learn you will never walk again, but, at some point, it’s going to come up and you’re going to want some answers.  I would challenge physicians and therapists to discuss these issues with their patients and to be open and brave enough to explore ways to help them re-learn sex.

Do not assume that being in a wheelchair means you can’t have sex and that it can’t be great or even better than it was or could have been without the disability.  Whatever their condition, God wants spouses to have sacred, intimate sex.  It is up to us to adapt to our body, whatever challenges we may be faced with!

Are you or your spouse confined to a wheelchair?  How do you feel about your sexuality and can you offer any advice to others in your situation?

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