I wont be doing this again until the weekend, so now is your chance to get something answered if you need a response quickly!
By: Alex M.
There are a lot of “cute” little catchphrases I could use to start off this review. You know, “Sex is like pizza, even when it’s kind bad it’s still kind of good…” har, har, right? I’ve personally always felt sort of left out by those kinds of jokes. Sex is great, and it may be one of my favorite things (and the option to not or never have sex is totally rad too!) but having sex isn’t always easy for me. Because of the way my body works, some not chill things can happen to me during sex. Disability is a hugely personal issue for those who identify within that spectrum of identity, and I don’t want to speak for anyone but myself, however: Sex isn’t always easy. I personally have a lot of reproductive issues, and the sex I have now is honestly only possible through the massive amounts of (usually fun) trial and error experimentation I’ve gone through.
Luckily for you, my dear readers, we’ve come up with a basic primer on having sex while disabled and having sex with those who are disabled. This is a very, very, very broad guide meant to reflect the diversity of our bodies. It may be winter right now, but hopefully this guide will be a fun way to prepare for when the birds and the bees show up.
Consent: I don’t care who the frickfrack you are, all parties must be enthusiastically consenting in a sex act, (that goes for solo sex too). Do not sexually pleasure yourself or engage in sexually arousing solo activities unless you know you’re most likely able to handle it emotionally and physically, ( i.e. if you are a person who runs on spoons, don’t feel pressured by society and it’s absurd standards of sexuality to expend them on solo sexytime unless you want to. It’ll be fine- I promise. ) What if you or your partners can’t always or sometimes verbally consent for whatever reason? Work out a system where you and your partner(s) have a definite “yes” and “no” signal that will work 100% of the time even when verbal communication is iffy.
The Big Shabam: Yo, don’t worry if you can’t always orgasm. Sometimes bodies don’t cooperate. Sometimes sex is more about the journey. Talk to your partner(s) about your expectations and prior experiences and see what theirs’ are as well. Work together to see what aspects of sex are most important to both of you, and agree to try to uphold the spirit of the ideals or engage in crucial actions.
Remember, sex is whatever you define as sex. Sex can be dry humping, foot rubbing, anything. Sex is wholly defined by the people having it, so disregard what people outside of the experience think. Sex is whatever activity you want it to be.
Break those Schemas: Disabled people can be and are sexy. That cannot be stressed enough. We are neither your tragic victims nor your fetish. We are people, and people that can feel sexy, empowered, or sensual-the whole spectrum. A differently functioning body does not negate sexuality or the fact that we are hardwired to propagate the species. Disabled people like sex too, and can be good at it. Disability studies have a boat load of media and narrative studies on the ableist idea that disabled people are all asexual or are not traditionally sexually desirable. Read up if this is a schema you feel called to smash.
Lube: It can never hurt. Test out a bunch of brands to see what tickles your fancy. Lube can give your wetness a boost, relax you, stimulate you, and allow other orifices to safely and easily fit hands. Lube is the bomb.
Safer Sex: Safer sex is a critical component to any sexual relationship. I don’t care if you’re into hardcore BDSM or solely phone or cybersex. It doesn’t matter. Make every effort to educate yourself on STI’s and potential pregnancy risks (if that scenario is possible.) Critically think over past, potential and preferred sexual acts and analyze if any element exposes you or your partner’s body to emotional or physical damage. (I’m talking like infections here, not whips and chains. No one is aroused by yeast infections.) Barrier methods (internal/external condoms, gloves, dental dams, etc) are crucial here.
Self Love: Accept and understand your body. Sex is not the time to be fighting with yourself, (it’s okay if you do, though.) Try not to worry about your belly, your various scars, or the way your disorder might make you move. You know why? You are attractive. There is at least one attractive person having sex with you when you have sex, even if it’s only yourself. You’re a babe. Embracing that makes sex so much better.
Sex Toys: Sex toys are great in that they can really facilitate sex if you’re mobility impaired. Discuss with your partner(s) the possibility of introducing one to pleasure one or both of you during sex acts. Your own personal sex toy is also pretty swell as well, to help you experiment on your own what works for you. There are a lot of great guides to sex toys that can be found here on BCIAW (try our Post Index and our Resource section) and all around Tumblr.
Talk with Your Doctor: I’m not a psychic or a doctor. I don’t know everything about every medical condition that can impede sexual function. I highly advise finding a doctor that is sex positive or at least competent and asking them what nuances of your disorder might interfere in sexual function.
Example: Pelvic disorders can cause hardening of arteries which in turn can impede orgasm. Typically when one is diagnosed, the first question isn’t: “But how will this affect my ability to cum?” And that is fine. However, it would pay off to schedule a visit if you suspect your disability is impeding your sex life in anyway.
Communication: Talk it out with yourself and your partner(s). Make time and space to negotiate your feelings on sex solo and with each other. Communication that leads to understanding is key. You are the world’s expert on your own body and its experiences, thus, only you can tell your partner how it feels to inhabit your body- as a sexual being and as a disabled person.
Looking for additional information? We’re big fans of the following resources on sex and disability:
Via Advocates for Youth:
The Great American Condom Campaign, a project of Advocates for Youth, is a youth-led grassroots movement to reduce unintended pregnancies and the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by normalizing condom use on college and university campuses. Students from across the country apply to become individual condom distribution points—AKA SafeSites— and upon selection receive a box of 500 Trojan condoms to distribute to their peers. SafeSites are also tasked with educating their peers about safer sex and advocating on campus and within their community for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.
This past fall, 1,400 SafeSites distributed more than 700,000 condoms to students on 946 campuses. SafeSites were established in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Sound like fun? Apply for the GACC NOW!
We receive way more applications than we can accept, so make sure your application stands out! Be clear about how you will distribute condoms and why you want to be part of the GACC. To learn more about the GACC and the awesome work of previous SafeSites, go to the GACC Facebook page.
Applications to be a Spring Semester SafeSite are open through December 31st, 2013. It only takes 10 minutes to fill out an application, so start now!
Waiting to hear back about what is essentially a dream job and I can’t stop thinking about it! They called my references two days ago so I am growing increasingly anxious. I’m hoping to distract myself by answering your questions!
Imagine going in to your first day on the job as a neurosurgeon. How do you feel? Excited? A little nervous? Surprise! You have never been to medical school, and the only thing you know about the brain is that it’s somewhere in your head. What could possibly go wrong? Without proper training and education, you could kill or paralyze someone. While you may not kill anyone entering a sexual relationship uninformed, you can just as easily hurt others or yourself if you are ill-informed. This is why offering teens a comprehensive introduction to sexuality is so important.
Comprehensive sex education is a really awesome idea, but something you are often hard pressed to find many schools. Why aren’t we teaching our children healthy and holistic ways of sexuality? What are the consequences of not doing so? What can you do to help the situation? Let’s find out together!
When I say sexual education, I do not just mean learning about the mechanics of protection and how babies are made. Comprehensive sexual education also includes a measure of discussion about consent, relationships, and the requisite sexual information. We all know of the bad things that can happen when we fail to educate teens about their choices; we see the statistics on them every year. Things like teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and the like are all things that happen when we enter the realm of sexuality unprepared. Conversely, what happens if we don’t educate our children about what it means to consent to sex? I love the “Don’t be that guy” project, and I think the message is outstanding. If we don’t educate our youth on the very real and very complicated dynamics of sex, how can we expect them to act accordingly? How do we expect them to respond to domestic abuse and dating violence when they are never shown what a healthy relationship looks like or how to build one? Some responsibility does fall on the teenagers themselves: if they want to become sexually active, they should take the initiative to educate themselves. However, the burden should not rest on those of us who know better. It is not always easy to find reliable information about sex and sexuality.
The question now shifts to, “How do we solve this problem?” I personally want to start a peer mentoring program during my undergraduate years for local high school students to provide an environment for teenagers to ask questions and get answers about sex and relationships in a less confrontational environment than they might find at home or in a clinic.
If you don’t have the time or resources to start your own group, there are also a bunch of amazing programs already out there. Planned Parenthood has an awesome program similar to this in Arizona, and I’m sure there are many others in more sex-ed friendly states. Why not give a few hours of your time to one? Or, if that’s not an option, just talk to the teens and young adults you know about these issues. Many seem to underestimate the impact talking to a few people can have. Information about sex will spread around throughout social circles, whether it is true or not. Why not take a step to providing better sex education outside of the classroom?
Sex and sexuality can make many people very uncomfortable. However, we can’t let that discomfort allow us to stand idly by when we could step in and change things for the better. It can be a hard conversation to have, especially for those of us who’d like to believe that “they’re too young to need that much information.” Trust me; by the time a teen starts high school, they need this information, either for themselves or their friends. Knowledge is power. Let’s empower our children, peers, and friends to take control of their sexuality and their choices before that choice is taken from them.
Now that it is established that lube is the most awesomest of items, lets talk about the different kinds. Your basic three most common categories are silicone based, oil based, and water based. However, there are also more specific kinds of lube meant for masturbating, tingling sensations, oral sex, anal sex, and just about everything else you can think of. Here is a basic guide to lube to help you find what might work best for you!
Water Based: This lubricant is the most versatile of them all. You can use it for all kinds of play, and it doesn’t make much of a mess. It feels a little more water-like and slippery than other lubes. It doesn’t have a scent, and they’re safe to use with condoms. This lube is awesome, but it does get absorbed into the body (since its water) so you may need to reapply mid-act. Some great water based lubes that I recommend are: Liquid Silk, and Sliquid.
Silicone Based: This lube lasts much better than water based lube, but a word of **warning**- don’t use it with your silicone sex toy! It will ruin it! Some great aspects of this kind of lube are that it can be used with condoms, its hypoallergenic, and its low-mess. This stuff does not get absorbed into your body though, so make sure you clean yourself up after you use it! A great silicone based lube that I recommend is Pink Silicone.
Oil Based: Oil based lube is great for masturbating but you cannot use it with latex condoms, which turns many people off of it. The materials in it are also not good for vaginas, so vagina owners beware! Be very careful when using this product! It can be very slippery and good for anal but if you’re having sex with a vagina-owner this is not the lube for you. Some recommendations for oil based lube are: Stroke 29.
Flavored: Flavored lubes are lubricants that, as the name implies, have some sort of flavor to them. They are meant to be used to make oral sex more pleasurable, and come in almost unlimited varieties. Although they can be used with condoms and dental dams, flavored lubes are generally not compatible with vaginal penetration as the sugars in them can cause vaginal infection. However, there are some options such as Sliquids Swirl Lube which are made to be safe for vaginas as well.
Now that we’ve covered the major type-options out there, lets explore some of the other things you should consider when choosing the best brand for you and your body:
Of course there are more things one might factor in to their lube decision, but hopefully this quick guide covered all your major bases. A quick recap: Silicone is awesome but don’t use it with your silicone sex toys. Water based is ultra versatile. Oil based is good for those looking for something massage compatible. Lastly, don’t forget to consider ingredients, feel, and consistency. Now go out and get wet!
Have any additional questions about what you read here? Don’t hesitate to ask!