There are countless types of disability and physical impairment in the world. And just as no two people are the same, no two people go through the same experience of living with a disability.
However, there are many issues that people with a disability share – one such issue is a lack of intimacy in a couple relationship.
The impact of disability on intimacy
Physical and mental health disorders, long term disability and illness can lead to decreased sexual activity and satisfaction for people of all ages and genders.
According to findings from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, even small mobility issues such as finding it difficult to walk up a flight of stairs can have an impact on a person’s sex life.
What’s considered sexy?
Some people think that sexuality and disability are separate and that people with a disability or impairment cannot feel desire or be desirable to others.
If a disability is incredibly limiting and a person is unable to do things for themselves, such as dress, bathe, eat, or go to the toilet, people assume they can’t – or shouldn’t – be having sex.
This assumption is not only felt amongst able-bodied people but within the disabled community as well.
In a study of people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, many women stated that they had doubts over their attractiveness when they were given the news.
Cancer patients (who are classed as being disabled whilst undergoing cancer treatment) also have been known to lose their self-esteem and have doubts over how desirable they are to their partner.
If you are suffering from low self-esteem, you may want to take a look at our tips for building self-esteem with your partner.
Tips for overcoming barriers and building intimacy
It’s important to know you or your partner’s limits when it comes to sex. If a part of the body has lost feeling or you can’t enjoy certain positions, movements or sexual activities make sure you discuss this with your partner.
Discuss what feels good and what doesn’t. You may have to try a few things out before you find something that works for you. Whatever you do, do it at your own pace.
If sex is too difficult, there are other ways of remaining intimate with your partner. Try some of the following:
- Gentle touching and stroking
- Holding hands
- Other sexual contacts such as mutual masturbation