Pleasure for Every Body: The need for discussion of disability in sex
By keisha janney

Having a satisfying and pleasurable sex life should be available to everybody and every body who wants to have one. 

Sadly, one marginalized group in particular exists whose sexual health and wellness is still rarely addressed: disabled people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in four, or nearly 61 million, adults in the United States live with a disability. That means you or someone you know is probably living with a disability.

Unfortunately, we get a lot of messages from the mainstream media that tell us that we should be having sex in particular ways, or in some cases, not having sex at all. In the media, we rarely see positive images of disabled people. It is even more rare to see disabled people having sex. More often, we are portrayed as sexless and undesirable. Yet, like most adults, disabled adults also desire a full range of sexual pleasure!

Disabled people might benefit from additional tools to help them explore their full pleasure potential. There are a range of items that can be used to reduce barriers and to help create pleasure. The following are a few ideas for people with physical disabilities to experience pleasure.

For many bodies, using a firm foam wedge can be used to position yourself or your partner(s). A wedge can provide more support than a typical pillow and can be used in a variety of positions. Slip a wedge underneath your hips while you are on your stomach for penetration or stimulation from behind. Position the wedge under your hips while on your back to relieve pressure on your back or hips and still get a great angle for oral or penetrative sex.

For solo play, there are a variety of options for people with penises or vaginas. For clitoral stimulation, vibrating wands carry a lot of power and a longer handle that can be easier to hold than a traditional bullet sized vibrator. Some wands even minimize vibration in the handle to minimize irritation to a nerve injury or carpal tunnel. 

There are also several styles of insertable toys that can be put in place and operated with a remote or via Bluetooth. For stimulating a penis, vibrating sleeves can be used with an erect or flaccid penis to create pleasurable sensation. Additionally, there are a wide variety of anal plugs that vibrate, rotate and stimulate any backside!

Sometimes barriers to pleasure might require the support of a professional. If you and/or your partner(s) are experiencing sexual difficulties related to disabilities, consider reaching out for assistance. Eugene has several intimacy coaches, couples therapists and physical therapists who specialize in working with bodies of all abilities. These are professionals who have specific experience to help you find the pleasure you desire.

Pleasureable sex is not out of reach for any body!

Keisha Janney, MS, CFT, is a part of The Eugene Intimate Health Center and an individual and relational therapist in private practice. In addition to her work, Janney enjoys crafting, volunteering and spending time with her dog. For more info: eugeneintimatehealthcenter.org.

This article was originally published in the Eugene Weekly.

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