CAN DISABLED PERSONS HAVE SEX?
DEC 24, 2018 4.43 PM
Most of us automatically perceive a disabled person as someone who cannot have sex, don’t want too, can’t have children—so, the topic is treated as a taboo and is rarely discussed.
“Even clinicians are guilty of not bringing up the subject with patients or dismissing it even when it is brought up,” says Dr Kavitha Ratnalingam, Consultant Rehabilitation Physician, ReGen Rehabilitation International.
The definition given by the World Health Organisation, she said referred to sexuality as an integral part of the personality of everyone: man, woman and child; it is a basic need and aspect of being human that cannot be separated from other aspects of life.
“People with physical or intellectual disabilities in today's society are often regarded as non-sexual adults. Sex is very much associated with physical attractiveness, and when it is not, is often seen as "inappropriate. When sex and disability are discussed, the male’s capacity and technique and female fertility are brought up – with no care to sexual feelings; ignoring aspects of sexuality such as touching, affection and emotions.”
So, sexuality is not just the act of penetration – it is so much more than that. It is the way we look and feel. For men on a wheelchair, going to the gym – getting buffed shoulders and putting on that tight t-shirt – if that’s what they like or dressing really smart. Communication with your spouse is yet another vital aspect.
“Most people with a stroke can function sexually. However, the biggest challenge is that they have depression which removes the desire to have intimacy and sexual relationship. Men with stroke may have diabetes which also affects their ability to have an erection but there are medications that can help.”
“There are some patients with spinal cord injury who can still achieve an erection because they have spasticity – where they can have a reflex erection although they can’t feel their penis and genital area. Medication can help sustain this, while for some we teach them to use a vacuum pump if it’s safe,” she said.
She added that they may even feel erotic sensation in other areas.
“For example, they might not have any sensation from the waist down but they could still have sensual pleasure just from their earlobes or the thumb. It’s all about experimenting on what makes them feel good which we encourage between partners.”
“This means, having an orgasm is still possible although it doesn’t feel the same as before.”
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