Tag Archives: Sex and relationships

X is for X-rated #EndTheAwkward

Spinal cord injuries and other impairments can affect the way people feel aroused and reach orgasm. Broadcaster and journalist Mik Scarlet is unable to get an erection after a spinal injury in his teens. He explains how this has led him to explore alternative erogenous zones, multiple orgasms and no end of X-rated fun…

X for X-rated is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability. This blog contains frank information about sex. It’s meant for people over the age of 16, so please only continue if you are 16 or older.

Sex is so much more than the method for making babies. It should be fun, exciting and a great way of bonding with a partner, whether they are the love of your life, your current squeeze or a one night stand.

It’s this element of their sex life that many spinal injured people feel they have lost, especially early on when they are learning to live with their injury.

But trust me – nothing could be further from the truth.

If you’ve lost the ability to gain erections, but can still feel aroused, then with a little effort you will find that you can achieve multiple orgasms. It transpires that it is the erectile system that prevents men enjoying sex in the way women can, and once you experience this you tend to not miss a ‘hard-on’ in quite the same way.

For those who have lost sensation, there is now a growing group of therapists and disabled people, myself included, that are promoting various ways of turning the erogenous zones on the parts you can feel into orgasmic zones, which opens up a whole new world of sexuality.

There are many differing techniques so it might be worth trying a few to see which suits you. But trust me; it really is possible to orgasm even if you are paralysed from the neck down.

Sure, sex after a spinal injury will be different than it was before, but with the right attitude, support and partner it can be better.

When I incurred my spinal injury I thought my sex life was over, but nothing could beat the sex I have now. A lot of that is due to my injury and how it made me re-examine what it means to have sex.

• Read Mik’s article about sex and spinal injuries in full at Pos’ability magazine.  

In this video, Mik reveals how to create orgasmic erogenous zones anywhere on your body and how to enjoy “thought orgasms” by conjuring up your sexiest, X-rated fantasies.

• This video first appeared on the Wellcome Trust’s blog, Mosaic.

K is for Kama Sutra #EndtheAwkward

No matter the disability. There’ll always be a position that brings that a smile to both your faces.

Many consider the Kama Sutra to be the Bible of sex. But disabled people are bringing these ancient positions into the 20th century. Whether you like to flip upside down, do it doggy-style or reverse like a cow girl – everyone has their favourite. And Romina Puma, a comedian who has muscular dystrophy, is no different. In this video, she reveals the ins and outs on how to get jiggy with it Kama Sutra style.

This blog contains frank information about sex. It’s meant for people over the age of 16, please only continue if you are 16 or older.

K is for Kama Sutra is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability. This blog contains frank information about sex. It’s meant for people over the age of 16, please only continue if you are 16 or older.

Disabled people have sex and do it in different positions just like everyone else. One day it dawned on me that I’d never seen a Kama Sutra for disabled people – and why not?

Luckily, Google had the answer. I found a Kama Sutra poster for disabled people anDSCF1376-edit_halfd took it to the stage – well the softcore version anyway!

Don’t get me wrong there are some limitations with the poster – it’s designed for male wheelchair-users for a start. A few times in my set I’ve loved inviting male audience members up on stage, to sit in my wheelchair and try out a few of the positions with me. It can be fun but it depends on what kind of an audience you have!

Initially, it was just something fun to put in the act but after experimenting with it on stage, I thought it would be great to try out some of the positions… But I soon realised it was much easier just to go to bed – I guess I’m just a creature of comfort!

Know what you like

For me personally, I know what kind of positions I like and which ones I can perform in for longer with my impairment. Just because you’re disabled it doesn’t mean that part of your life is over. I can have sex normally. Obviously, I don’t have the strength to do certain positions for a long time – but who does?

Sex is awkward for everyone – so it’s important to be open with your partner. If they understand how to pleasure you, it will help avoid people feeling awkward.

I’ve done research to understand how other disabled people with different impairments have sex to get some tips about positions and aids, such as using pillows to make things more comfortable.

But it’s not only your partner who needs to be open-minded. It’s so important to know your own body– and your limits too. Once you know this, then you can play around. It’s always nice to be able to explore and try.

It’s the same for people who aren’t disabled – there may be certain things they like and other things they don’t like. There has to be a connection with someone, where you can talk freely – like “do this”, “go there”, “do that” – give some directions here and there.


Changing perceptions

In my shows I try and change people’s perceptions on sex and disability as much as I can. I’m still waiting for someone to help me try all the positions in the Kama Sutra. But can you believe it – I haven’t had any takers yet!

Please share Romina’s blog using the buttons below. And check out the next letter in our A to Z of sex and disability – L is for Lips.

You can watch Romina’s saucy set at the Backyard Club in Bethnal Green, East London, on Sunday 8 November at 3.30pm.

E is for Experimenting – #EndtheAwkward

Some barriers mean that disabled people have to get creative. Emily Swiatek, who has non-epileptic seizures, tells us how she, like many disabled people, gets experimental in the bedroom.  

E is for Experimenting is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability

This blog contains frank information about sex. It’s meant for people over the age of 16, please only continue if you are 16 or older.

Emily S a-z3Being disabled encourages you to explore sex in a much more radical way. When we think about sex, the thing that comes into most people’s minds is penetrative sex.

But actually, a lot of sex – especially disabled sex – pushes the boundaries of that.

If I’ve had loads of seizures or if I’m just getting quite tired, it’s painful. And no one wants to have painful sex, so you have to explore new ways of having sex that are still fulfilling for both of us.

Sleeping with my carer

My partner is also my carer, and our sex life fluctuates – there have been times where I haven’t had sex with my partner for months and months.

It can be quite tough when there’s a care element with your partner. You wonder: are they your lover or are they your parent? But I think it’s okay to sometimes be like, ‘You know what? Sex isn’t a part of my relationship right now but it can still be fun. It can still be fulfilling.’ You just have to play and explore.

My partner and I actually have an open relationship. Part of the reason I like that is that I know that not everything has to come from me – and equally, my partner doesn’t have to be all things to me.

I value my partner’s sexuality really highly, and our open relationship means they aren’t stuck in this constant care role. So our relationship gets the space and the freedom to be a relationship.

Sex can be weird

Having sex with a disabled person can be really weird. One time I was having sex with someone, and it was really great, but then my brain flipped into seizure mode and I began to have a seizure.

We’d had a couple of drinks and the other person was really into it, so they kept going! I was shaking and they were like, ‘Brilliant!’

Eventually I managed to tap them on the shoulder and they realised I was having a seizure and were like, “Oh my god, I’m really, really sorry.”

I’m not unbangable!Emily S a-z2

When I think about sex and relationships and disability, the thing that springs to mind is Channel 4 programme The Undatables. Just look at the name – The Undatables? That’s not who we are.

I am in a long term relationship and have recently dated other people for fun on the side with full consent in an ethical way. I’m not undatable. I’m not unbangable.

Communication is key

Sometimes you’ll be in these places where you’re like, okay sex, I don’t want you. I don’t feel like you’re accessible to me.

Loads of disabled people take medications that mean we can’t have orgasms. Or our orgasms are these dull, weird versions of what they were. It’s really annoying.

But also it’s okay and if you’re with a partner where you can communicate you can still have really fun sex without an orgasm. It doesn’t have to feel that something is lacking.

What non-disabled people can learn

Non-disabled people have loads to learn from disabled people about how sex and relationships can be fulfilling in lots of different ways. It isn’t just a linear path towards sex nirvana.

I would love some non-disabled people to have a better sex life because of things they’d learnt from disabled people. That’d be amazing!

If you like Emily’s story, help us #EndtheAwkward by sharing it on your Facebook, Twitter, anywhere you like! 

E is for Experimenting is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability. Read the rest of the A to Z

Find out more about Emily on her blog.

H is for Happy Ending – #EndTheAwkward

No not that kind. We’re talking happy-ever-afters and the kind of long lasting relationship where love overcomes any awkwardness along the way. In this post Kelly tells us what it was like meeting and marrying her husband Jaz. 

H is for Happy Ending is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability.

There are times that I thought that I would never get a ‘happy ending’.  I doubted myself, and thought that I could never be found sexually attractive. I always got with the wrong guys and I never had any respect for myself.

That all changed when I met Jaz at college, it sounds cheesy but it’s true. My group of friends were all guys. All loud, erratic, ‘guy’ guys. I fit in perfectly! They saw straight past my disability and they treated me like any other friend. At school I always focused hard on fitting in at first and then, when I realised I didn’t fit… rebelling.

A close up of Kelly and Jaz's wedding rings as they hold hands.Meeting my new friends made me realise that was okay. Jaz and I flirted for quite a while and we’d often sneak off on secret days out away from our other friends. It was apparent quite quickly that we wanted to be in each others lives and we’ve always been quite full on.

After months and years of on off, teenage angsty “love”, we went our separate ways (Jaz went to uni and I went to work). Throughout that time it always felt as if there was something missing.

Becoming one of ‘those couples’

Jaz places his arm around Kelly on their wedding day. They are both smiling.

Jaz and I got back together after some time away and things had shifted slightly. We were adults! We couldn’t get away with drinking traffic light shots on grimy pub sofas and me being chucked around the room with our mates anymore. So we did it, we went on a date, a real date, and it was amazing.

It was valentines day (which is also Jaz’s birthday!) and although I really liked seeing Jaz, I was playing hard to get, so my friend Jess and I decided to go for a meal together and hate on all of the lovey-dovey couples around. However, Jess bailed as she was ill so I decided to take Jaz out. We went for the meal and we became one of ‘those couples’ (sorry everyone!)

Ending the awkward

Throughout our relationship Jaz and I have experienced a few awkward moments but we really don’t let them faze us. Obviously Jaz does a lot for me but that is just part of our daily routine. However, the way we are perceived by other people is often unusual.

People have often said to Jaz, “Oh you are dating a girl in a wheelchair, fair play!” as if he is doing me some kind of service. People often talk to Jaz instead of me and when we are out and about we do get some pretty weird questions… especially when it comes to sex!

It just depends on our mood as to how we respond to the questions. Sometimes we will make us bizarre tales and other times we will just shrug them off – it just depends on how many drinks we have both had.

Kelly and Jaz smiling on their wedding day in the center of a group of their family and friends who are throwing confetti. It is sunny and everyone is smiling.

The big day finally arrived

Jaz makes me do things that I’d never normally do. Jaz is my best friend and we help each other achieve our goals. In April 2015 we finally got married! After years of back and forth, teenage mood swings, and just life getting in the way, we finally did it!

Our wedding day was absolutely perfect, we travelled to London from Birmingham with a coach full of Black Country folk. Safe to say, central London didn’t know what had hit it!

We were there for the weekend with our family and close friends and everyone was staying over. It was like a huge party. As for the ceremony it was everything I ever imagine it would be. It’s a strange feeling, marrying your best friend (again cheesy but true). It just felt right, like it had all finally fallen into place.

Even on our wedding day Jaz was pushing my boundaries. I was so nervous about our first dance to the point I actually considered cancelling it because my legs often give way under pressure. Can you imagine a more high pressure situation than everyone watching you? I was also worried that it would be pretty boring for our guests as I’m not exactly Michael Flatly, it’s not like they could expect anything more than for us to just stand and sway!

But Jaz convinced me. We danced to our song and Jaz made sure I was comfortable. I can honestly say it was the best feeling in my life. I got my Happy Ending (or beginning) and I know I will continue to be happy with Jaz as my equally evil accomplice.

Kelly and Jaz on their wedding day during their first dance. Jaz is holding Kelly up out of her wheelchair and they are smiling at each other.