Accessible Sex: 3 Heart-Pounding Possibilities
July is Disability Pride Month, but we should always promote pride and awareness of people with disabilities. I’m sharing some tips to address three specific accessibility needs within sexual interactions. We all deserve to feel comfortable, safe, and confident when getting it on!
Pain & Muscle Fatigue – Use props!
Pillows are my best friend for solo and partnered sex. They are multipurpose and can offer all types of assistance.
With sex toys: When using a toy that you find heavy, or one that requires odd wrist angles, or you know it’s going to take a while and you don’t want your carpal tunnel acting up, try propping up the toy, and/or your wrist, on a pillow. Depending on how firm or soft your pillow is, you may need to fold it over or prop it up. You can also use your thighs to maintain pressure and position.
Body positioning: When positions don’t feel comfortable, see if there is a way to modify it using pillows. For example, place a pillow under the hips or lower back for someone who is lying on their back or front. This can reduce lower back pressure/pain and tilt the pelvic area in a fun way. For lower back pain, you can even add a Pure Romance Heart Massager or a heating gel pad between you and a stabilizing pillow.
If someone is on their knees, or even on a bed, put pillows below the knees to alleviate pressure. For swinging breasts or chest areas, use a pillow, or several, as additional support to keep them from painfully dancing. Sex pillows are also great, as they are built to support more of your body in various positions!
Non-pillow tips: Sex swings, slings, and other devices for body positioning can help reduce various stressors. Also, massaging areas that feel tight or doing light stretching can sometimes help loosen tense or sore areas.
Cat Got Your Tongue – Come Prepared (pun intended 😉)
For some of us, communication, especially verbal communication, can be a challenge in the moments where it’s most useful or pressing. This can happen due to trauma responses, sensory overload, or various other circumstances that limit immediate verbal interaction including permanent conditions related to hearing, ability to speak, or motor related disabilities.
It’s important to come up with a shared language with your partner(s) in advance. In the moment, you may experience freeze or fawn (going along with something you may not want to), fear responses to new situations, or you have other reasons that make you less likely to be able to communicate in the moment.
This can include discussing what a happy vs. distressed non-verbal you looks like, sharing non-verbal communication techniques (such as taps or common stims), and planning regular check-ins and pauses. It might also mean requesting that questions be asked with multiple choice responses to reduce the pressure open-ended and yes/no questions can cause.
For example, ‘do you want to make out, cuddle, or grab popcorn for a movie?’ may be easier to respond to than ‘what do you want to do?’ and feel less loaded than ‘do you want to have sex?’
General Fatigue – Plan around your needs
General fatigue can be the result of depression, anxiety, physical ailments, nutritional deficiencies, medical treatments, and a whole host of conditions. If there are times of day where you are most likely to experience an uptick (or downtick) in energy, make note of that time and capitalize on it. In my case, it feels like I’m exhausted all of the time, but I realized that I am particularly low energy at night, which makes sex a sometimes insurmountable activity. Because of this, I am more likely to choose sex in the morning or afternoon, when my body is more responsive and alert.
Interested in more tips related to anxiety, flashbacks, trauma, and sensory overloads, concentration challenges, medication and libido, paralysis, severe chronic pain, painful vaginal disorders? Let us know so we can cover it!
Yael R. Rosenstock GonzalezSex Educator, Researcher, Author, Speaker
Yael has been engaged in workshop development and facilitation since she joined the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) as a teen peer reproductive rights educator at 15 years old. Since then, she has served as an educator with children ranging from 10 months old to adults in their 70s with different organizations and communities. In her work as first Program Coordinator, then Director of Programming, and finally Associate Director of the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding, Yael developed and led events, workshops, and programs with an intersectionality lens.