Disabilities and Female Sexuality

Disabilities and Female Sexuality

Women with disabilities are just as likely to have the same sexual needs and desires as women who are not disabled. We should be careful not to see disabled women as asexual. Most disabilities will not have a major impact on a woman’s ability to engage in and enjoy sex. As I gather information about how disabilities influence women’s sexuality.

Women with Multiple Sclerosis may have difficulty experiencing orgasm, or find themselves totally unable to experience orgasm. There can be partial numbness of the genitals, genital stimulation may be unpleasant or painful, and vaginal intercourse may be painful. The affects of MS on female sexual response can change over time, making it impossible for several months, then pleasurable for several weeks. Source: Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving page 511.

About one third of women with Diabetes will experience an inability to achieve orgasm as the result of nerve damage 4 to 6 years after diagnosis. Unfortunately the nerve damage is permanent. Source: Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving page 512.

A visitor to this site informed me that she was unable to experience orgasm prior to getting treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity (ADHD) is a neurological syndrome that is usually genetic and is characterized by distractibility, impulsiveness, and restlessness, which interferes with everyday functioning. This impairs a woman’s ability to experience orgasm because her mind is racing. She can’t keep her mind focused on the sexual stimulation, or a sexual fantasy, long enough for her body to experience orgasm. The mind is going at 100 mph while the body is only going 20 mph. I did a web search on the subject and came up empty handed. A post to a newsgroup uncovered a few other women who reported ADD affected their sexuality as well. Sometimes it impaired sex because they couldn’t concentrate, other times it made sex about the only thing they could concentrate on. One woman posted, “Effexor, a novel anti-depressant that is prescribed for ADHD, however, does inhibit orgasm, but leaves the desire there. This is pretty well documented.” A friend with ADD searched her books and came up with one brief mention of ADD’s impact on orgasm. The book, “Answers to Distraction”, simply said something to the affect, “that you’ll have trouble having an orgasm if you are thinking about work tomorrow and can’t otherwise focus on sex so the only ‘treatment’ would be to treat the ADD.

The above information should bring to light the importance of having balanced hormones in the body. Having too much or too little of any hormone that affects your daily life can have a major affect on your sexuality. Unfortunately, finding documentation that states that relationships may be next to impossible. Basically, any disability that deals with your hormones, all hormones, not just your male and female sex hormones, can influence your sexuality.

A Paraplegic Shares Her Experience

I hope that I can add some information to your site, specifically the section on disabilities.

I am in my twenties and I was in a car accident a few years ago and became a paraplegic. From personal experience, I can say that being in a wheelchair has not decreased my sex drive at all. Women with paraplegia can still masturbate, have orgasms, and have sex. I’ve had to rediscover my body and what makes me aroused, but masturbation and sex are still a lot of fun.

Medically speaking, a spinal cord injury changes the method a woman becomes aroused. I can’t get aroused just by fanaticizing about sex or even kissing my boyfriend. Instead, direct stimulation is needed on the parts that have been affected by the spinal cord injury (SCI). This is because the communication between the parts of my body that aren’t affected by the spinal cord injury can’t relay information to the part that is affected. [Since her brain cannot communicate efficiently with her lower body, sexual fantasy, and erotic stimulation of areas with sensation, does not result in sexual arousal involving her vulva and vagina. If her vulva is directly stimulated sexual arousal and orgasm are possible.] Also, most paraplegics find that it takes longer to have an orgasm. (This doesn’t mean that they’re not enjoyable, though!)

Just because I’m in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in sex. I hope that this information will help people to look past the chair and see the person.

Paraplegia has no effect on a woman’s ability to get pregnant and have children.

In response to a request for more information she provided the following.

Nature of Injury – I am a T2 complete paraplegic. Let me explain. There are four main sections to the spine. The top part, or neck, is the cervical. If there is an injury at this level, a person looses use of her hands and arms and is a quadriplegic. The second section is the thoracic. This is the upper back. The lumber is the third section and consists of the lower back. The lowest section of the spine, including the tailbone, is the sacral. A paraplegic is someone with an injury in the thoracic, lumbar or sacral section.

A T2 injury means that my injury has occurred at the second vertebra in the thoracic section. (There are 12 vertebrae in this section.) This is roughly between the tops of my shoulder blades.

An injury can be complete (the spinal cord has been completely severed), or incomplete (there has been damage, but some parts of the spinal cord at level of injury are still intact).

Level of motion – As a paraplegic, I have full use of my arms and hands. If I had broken my back a little higher, I would have lost some of the use of my hands and arms. I also can use my shoulders (deltoids), pecs, lats, and some of the muscles in my upper back. I can’t use my abs, lower torso muscles, and anything lower than that.

Just because I can’t use a muscle, though, doesn’t mean that the muscle doesn’t work. I just can’t control its movement. For example, I can make my foot muscles contract by tickling the bottom of my foot. I can’t sense what the foot is feeling, but it still responds. The response, though, isn’t as strong as it was before my injury. On average, any part of my body that is affected by my SCI will still respond to stimulus, but not to the degree that it used to. This means that I can achieve orgasm, but it takes more time to get there.

Sensation – There is a transition zone where I loose sensation, or the ability to feel a light touch. I imagine it as a line across my upper back, under my armpits (I can feel the front of my armpits, but not the back) and across my front like a really low cut v-neck top. Above this line, everything is normal. Below it, I can’t feel a light touch, temperature, or pain. There are a few tiny spots where I can feel a little. There is one spot on the side of my ribs, and a few spots on my breasts.

There is a second type of sensation, pressure. I can feel pressure on most of my torso, but nothing on my legs. Imagine getting a back massage while wearing a few heavy sweaters and a really thick winter coat. You’d be able to identify where the masseuse is putting pressure, but not be able to feel exactly what her hands are doing. That’s what pressure is.

Erogenous Zones – Any part of my body that I can feel is much more sensitive. Imagine standing outside on a sidewalk on a windy day. Now imagine being able to erase the sound of the traffic. Then, remove the sound of people talking, the sound of the birds, the sounds coming from the nearby cafe, everything except the wind. The wind isn’t any louder, but with every other sound removed, it’s so easy to isolate and focus on.. By paying more attention, it becomes possible to identify different sounds in the wind itself – through the trees, or rushing around the corner of a building. In the same way, a touch on my arm, or neck is so much more intense.

I mentioned a few other places below level of injury where I can still feel. These places are VERY important to me. Even though I can’t feel what I used to, I still experience the general good sensations that accompany sex and orgasm.

Resources – I really haven’t done a lot of research. I do know that there is more information on men with paraplegia. Guys tend to break their backs more often and for them, there’s the all important question, “Will I still be able to get an erecting?” and the answer can be complicated. I did get some info from the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA), although I haven’t looked at it in a while. I’d suggest contacting CPA or a similar organization.

Vibrators – I’ve tried them, but I think they’re useless. Maybe they’re effective for others, though.

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