How Can I Learn to Enjoy Sex & Not Worry About My Disabled Body?

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 08:18
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Dear Dr. Betty,

First of all, I just want to thank you so much for spreading the important knowledge about the world of sexuality. I have had a progressive upbringing with a mother who was never shy to tell me the in and outs of sex. But your site has given me a more in depth knowledge about how sex “really works” and it’s not all about the penis going into the vagina. I also appreciate encouragement you have for masturbation, as I think no one can ever know your body better than yourself.

Now to start off with, throughout my whole life I have always been in tune with myself sexually, as I’ve been having fantasies since probably around 8yrs old and then masturbating for as long as I can remember. But for so long I didn’t even realize that I was actually doing that until recently when I discovered your website a few years ago when I went away to college. Man, was my mind blown. Here, i thought i’m just waiting for my time to break out sexually, when in fact I have been sexual this whole time. So liberating, but definitely made sense once I connected the dots of my past. ;)

The issues I want your advice on is that throughout my life (especially during the critical years of puberty) I have had a multitude of hospitalizations and have a severe a case of scoliosis which leaves me with too many scars to count and a body that clearly doesn’t look close to being the norm. To be honest, the only part of my body I actually feel that looks normal is my vulva (which everyone else seems to think is deformed).

I also had a feeding tube for a long time, until at age 14 it was removed. And in total have had 19 surgeries within 22 years of my life. So you can imagine that being sexual with anyone having my background has been very tricky.

But now that I’ve had most of the surgeries that I need done with, it’s still hard to move on from my hospital past and not feel like I’m too “physically impaired or medically ill” to explore my sexuality.

I’ve been able to slowly accept my body for what it is through masturbation. Which has been miraculous breakthrough for me. But when it comes to being sexual with anyone that when it’s gets difficult. Most people either ask too many questions that are a complete turn off, or they think I’m too fragile to "get it on” with, or my mind gets so caught in being so worried about how they’ll handle seeing what my body actually looks like, it’s hard to enjoy myself in the moment.

I haven’t had much experience being with a sexual partner and have yet to be in a relationship. So I would love your advice on the following, how I can break out of my shell completely and learn to enjoy sex and have new experiences without worrying about how others are going to handle being up close and personal with my disabled body??

On another note, I am studying psychology and wish to go into disability advocacy and am very interested in how people think about sex. Especially how sex can play a role in the lives of those who have chronic illnesses or disabilities. It’s absolutely ridiculous to me how society thinks that those with disabilities are unable to have sexual lives…Not true at all, there usually so much sexual frustration that it can unbearable, but there is no outlet to explore our sexuality as some people with disabilities are surrounded by a caregiver or medical professionals or family all the time.

So your knowledge about making people more aware that the disabled are just as sexually active and want to be desired the same as able-bodied people do is quite appreciated. Thanks again. If you need me to clarify anything please let me know. Hope you can help with my dilemma.

Best Regards,

Dear T,

Thanks for voicing your appreciation of my work. It has always been a joy to support women and men having better more pleasurable sexlives.

Yay for orgasms!

I had to laugh when you said, "To be honest, the only part of my body I actually feel that looks normal is my vulva (which everyone else seems to think is deformed)." It is indeed a cruel world.

When my body started changing with the aging process, I struggled with my body image with all the sagging, wrinkles, moles, warts, freckles and scars. So I had partner sex with a cute comfortable top on that gave easy access to my lower body. A conversation also helped like simply sharing (the same as you did with me) about your surgical history. You are a very brave veteran of medical procedures and deserve to be awarded a purple star. Once I was accepting of my aging body, my partner was too. It's when we're self conscious that makes others feel uncomfortable.

First times are always the most challenging. But once I simply verbalized my concerns both my partner and I felt more at ease. Also it gets easier the more you do it. So take a deep breath and speak up. Then you can laugh about it later on. There are very few women who are truly comfortable in their bodies. We can learn a lesson form men who take a lot more for granted while often thinking they're the best. I'm rooting for you. It's your turn to enjoy sex with a partner as well as continuing the love affair with yourself.

Dr. Betty

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

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We're all acceptable, just as we are

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 17:33

I appreciate your being willing to share with us, T, and also Dr Betty's wise response.

You are the expert on yourself, both on your body and on your emotional, sexual, and psychological needs. We have such a youth-oriented, beauty-oriented culture! It's no wonder that you have some worries about how you'll be perceived. Older people and those with disabilities are too often left out of consideration.

When you meet a person you're attracted to and they reciprocate that attraction, if they are worthy of being included in your life they will accept you as you are. It might be helpful to have a frank discussion with a new partner about any mutual concerns. They might have no issues with what your body looks like, for example (after all, that's purely superficial), but they might be afraid they could hurt you. Letting them know up front that you're not fragile, and giving them an idea of what you enjoy in bed, could open the door to some wonderful, uninhibited sexual experiences. You are an honest, thoughtful, and courageous person and you deserve sexual as well as personal happiness. The right partners for you are out there.

I once worked with a woman in her thirties who, because of severe cerebral palsy, found herself living in a nursing home. She longed for a sexual partner, but in her circumstances it was almost impossible to meet a suitable person, and even if she had, there would have been numerous issues with privacy and with getting the cooperation of the nursing staff. She finally moved to a supported apartment, and I hope her new independence made the difference for her.

I learned of another woman with a similar disability who wanted to explore her sexuality but was physically unable to do so on her own. She found two understanding therapists who modified a vibrator for her so that she could use it independently. She was able to achieve orgasm and have some control over her sexuality at last. I also saw a documentary about a young French woman who had no control over her muscles, but who was capable of full sexual sensation. She had all of the concerns you and these other women had. She finally became an activist and took to the streets in her motorized wheelchair, passing out literature to let people know that disabled people are still sexual people and they have rights. You would be the perfect person to understand the concerns of these women (and men) and help create workable solutions for them. And we also need articulate spokesmen and women who can advocate for those with disabilities and inform the public that disabled people are as sexual as anyone else and have the right to have their needs taken seriously and accomodated as much as possible. Best wishes in both your personal and professional lives.

As with everyone else, we are

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 08:54
Jeffrey65802 (not verified)

As with everyone else, we are our own harshest critics. We're accustomed to seeing ourselves in mirrors many times every day and have memorized every little "flaw" others don't even notice taking us in as a whole. Thus it's important to remind ourselves that other people probably aren't perceiving us like we do ourselves. More than anything else though, people are attracted most to confidence. It's why I think 'bad boys' are considered so attractive since heaven knows, most of them aren't especially good-looking but for the confidence they radiate. So once you come to love and accept yourself, people will key in on that and see the forest for the trees as it were. Also, it's worth mentioning, confidence coupled with 'sexual availability' can make us irresistable. If people get the impression we'll have sex with them, that's like ringing the dinner bell for most people. Conversely, some are attracted to the shy and timid types (good thing for me or I'd be a virgin at 43 hehe.)

As to finding people not put off by your thing, I assumed there would be a wealth of dating sites catering to people with disabilities since there seems to be niche sites for everything else. Googling, I wasn't disappointed.

Dearest t, what a coincidence

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 13:49
sara ablinger (not verified)

Dearest t,

what a coincidence - my partner´s name also starts with t. she also has a disability. i want to tell you our love-and-sex story to show you: love comes in all shapes, colours, sizes, abilities, forms and varieties.
i knew t for quite a few years (also was in a queer crip-activist group with her), but because she´s older than me, seeming like a quite tough butch lesbian, i always was afraid to tell her, how attracted i was. she on the other hand felt similar. thought, i was out of her league, also hung up in my relationship, way too cool and tough for her. years went by and none of us knew about our feelings. then i went on a trip with my first partner, where a lot of sexual energy generated between a group of people. that was the kick off to tell people when i´m attracted to them. so i told her. that also was the beginning of our relationship and sexual encounters.
i think the most important part for you might be to own your body, accept it, feel pleasure with it and own that pleasure too. people can see this passion and your sexual energy. hopefully there are some among those people that are not too shy or insecure to go on this journey with you. until then, enjoy your body <3 much passion and love, s!