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Sex and disability

Physical or mental disability can cause low self-esteem and lack of sexual confidence, which can impact on leading a regular sex life.

People who have a medical condition that impairs their ability to lead a regular sex life may also feel concerned or worried about having sex.

Talk about it

You should talk about your worries with your partner, doctor, or specialists in the subject. It won’t be the first time someone’s asked that question. And it’s not a subject you should feel embarrassed about. Having sex is part of a healthy, natural routine.

It is not unusual to feel anxious about having sex. But there are people who can help you get the most out of sexual relationships.

Your doctor will be able to advise you on steps to take, and whether you may need any medical aid or relationship therapy.

You may want to try experimenting with what feels comfortable and practical for you and your partner. Take it slowly and change position slightly if you or your partner becomes uncomfortable. This way, you can find out how your body responds to certain things. You may even find you have increased sensitivity to some areas.

Many couples find that sex is not the most important part of their relationship and that kissing or touching each other is more enjoyable. Try not to let anxieties or fears about performance get in the way.

There are a number of things you and your partner can do to feel confident and comfortable about sex. First of all, learn about how your disability can affect sex and relationships. For example, if you have multiple sclerosis, there are self-help books and videos available about intimacy.

You can also try writing down how you feel. You may find this easier than speaking face to face with someone about your concerns.

You might find that your body feels strange or unfamiliar to you so exploring it to find what you like and what you don’t like will make it easier when it comes to sex. This can include experimenting with masturbation or sex aids.

Counselling

There are specialists who can help you with talking about sex and disabilities and how you feel. The specialists can help you feel more comfortable with the subject and give you advice on how to speak to your partner about what you like and what they can do to help.

Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether you need practical information, medical help or some additional aids.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your sex and disability, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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Helpful contacts and websites

Helpful contacts and websitesIf you need some extra advice or want to talk things through, the sites and organisations listed on this page are here to help.

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