Being in a wheelchair, one of the questions I’m often asked is whether I can have sex.
Have you ever gone up to a stranger in the street and asked them about their sex life? No, neither have I. People see the wheelchair and automatically think they can ask absolutely anything they like; that nothing is off limits and assume I’ll happily divulge private information regarding my sex life with strangers while I’m out buying bread.
Personally, I’m very open about sex. I think disability and sexual relationships need to be discussed more (but there’s obviously a time and place). This forbidden juxtaposition of disability and sex is all too familiar, and we really need to start opening up the conversation and breaking boundaries.
So, here’s 9 things you need to know when it comes to the sex lives of wheelchair users.
1. Yes, we can have sex
One-night stands, fuck buddies, threesomes, relationships. Anything you can do, we can do too.
“I sometimes think that abled people forget that disabled people are human beings too,” @simplyemma2 told me. “We have the same feelings, needs and desires, regardless of our disabilities. My able bodied boyfriend and I have a very fulfilling, loving and active sex life, he’s never missed out on anything or had any complaints,” she added.
It’s also a common misconception that wheelchair users only have relationships with other disabled people because we’d have that familiarity, and although this does happen, it’s not always the case. A lot of wheelchair users have perfectly able sexual partners.
2. There’s more to sex than penetration
As Deanna Laurette points out, penetrative sex is often viewed as the only way to experience sex, but that could not be further from the truth. If penetration isn’t possible, you can try oral, hand jobs, fingering, mutual masturbation, toys. There’s so many ways to experience an orgasm than vaginal or anal intercourse. And we’re more than happy to give and receive pleasure.
3. Don’t make generalisations
“The reasons people use wheelchairs are diverse,” pointed out @ourelectra, and it’s true. You might sleep with five different wheelchair users and none of them have the exact same needs. Everyone uses a wheelchair for a completely different reason; don’t assume my bits don’t work or that I’m paralysed just because of my wheels.
4. It shouldn’t be taboo
Sex and disability are not mutually exclusive, and like abled people, wheelchair users have urges, cravings and fantasies that we desperately want to fulfil. Sex is a fundamental part of life that most people relish, there’s nothing seedy or wrong about it.
5. Wheelchair users are attractive; you’re not weird for fancying us
People are attracted to others for various reasons. It could be their looks, their intellect, their personality, or a variety of things – and that doesn’t stop because we use wheels instead of legs. There’s nothing wrong with fancying a wheelchair user, why would there be? We have so much to offer, and at the end of the day, you’ll be shagging me, not my wheelchair.
6. Communication is absolutely vital
“A big no-no is trying to take me out of my chair, unless I have indicated that I want to be,” @BecMajor said. “I’ve had guys try to carry me from the living room to my bed, which they think is pretty romantic and I think is pretty terrifying.”
Trust, open mindedness and honest communication are fundamental. You really want to be as candid as you can as it makes everyone’s experience much more enjoyable.
7. Adapt and get creative
“Disabled people are forced to adapt in every aspect of their life, including the bedroom, but that doesn’t make it any less valid or enjoyable,” Ruby from @chr0nicallycute told me. And @simplyemma2 agreed: “My disability is never a problem as my boyfriend and I have found ways which work best for us and enjoy trying new things.”
Using a wheelchair has led me to appreciate creativity and exploring sex in different ways. It may be unorthodox but it can be a lot of fun experimenting. Also, sometimes the disability can be an advantage, especially if – like my primary condition – it makes you more flexible.
Try different positions, use cushions, fold the duvet under hips; find whatever way works best for your situation. Engage in your fantasies, role play, get kinky; anything an abled person may want to do, a disabled person will too.
You don’t always have to use the bed for sex either; I can recline my powerchair. It tilts and raises my legs, so you can think what you will of that.
8. Disability doesn’t need to be a fetish
There are people out there who are turned on by disability and although we all have our attractions, most wheelchair users would rather be with someone that wants them – not their disability. “We aren’t in existence for your fetishes,” said Sophie from @TheNudeWriter.
9. Wheelchair users also fall into other marginalised categories
We aren’t all white cis heterosexual beings; you will find wheelchair users in all communities, so it’s important to respect those individualities as well.
Consensual sex with a wheelchair user is just as good as any other kind of sex. We aren’t aliens; we know what we’re doing and we know what we like.