Sex and disability advice

Sex is an important part of life. Sex should be an equal, positive and happy experience for you. You have the right to be seen and accepted as a person with sexual needs, wishes and desires!

Getting ready to have sex also means becoming more independent. You have the right to privacy in your sex life, even if you may need support from your parents or carers in other parts of your life.

You have the right to be included in sex education and to learn information that is useful to you.

Sex education in school and college

You may not get all the information that you need at school or college.

As a young disabled adult, you have the right to be included in sex education lessons.

You may have to ask for the specific information you need. You should learn about:

  • your rights and responsibilities
  • pleasure and feeling good
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • different bodies
  • consent
  • different types of relationships
  • contraception

This is as well as information from the NHS on:

Asking for adjustments

You have the right to be included. Ask for any adjustments that you need.

The information must:

  • apply to you
  • be presented in a way that you understand

For example, if your condition means that you find it difficult to open a condom packet, the person teaching you will need to find another way to make this work for you.

Teachers sometimes do not have all the information to hand, but they should never leave you without answers or support. If they cannot help you, they should offer to find someone who can. If they do not offer this, it is your right to ask. They should also respect your privacy, You can ask for a private session if that is what you want.

If you’re not getting the information you need

If you have questions that you feel uncomfortable asking about during a lesson, it's still important that you get the answers you need.

You could ask:

  • a teacher, who you trust and feel comfortable with
  • a school counsellor
  • for support to find out from other sources

Remember you are entitled to access this information and support. This should also be confidential.

Getting support

You can talk about dating, sex and relationships in Scope’s online community.

Disability Horizons has resources for online dating and a forum.

Why you want to have sex

Thinking about why you want to have sex may make it easier to talk. You may want to think about the points below to understand whether you are ready to have sex. Saying “yes” means giving consent.

  • You could say ‘no’ if you wanted to.
  • Nobody’s forcing you, pressuring you or making you.
  • You have made a connection with someone and you both feel ready.
  • You do not want to have sex to keep a partner or to make you popular.
  • You’ve talked about using contraception, such as condoms.
  • You also know how to protect yourself with other contraception methods, such as pills and PREP, a medication to prevent HIV.
  • You’ve agreed what happens afterwards, including if you will tell your friends and family and what might happen if you get pregnant or catch a sexually transmitted infection.

Intimacy, disability and relationships

Learning what feels good

Touching your body and finding out what feels good will help you become more confident about sex. This usually means learning to masturbate.

If you cannot touch your genitals or touching them is painful, there are other techniques you can try.

Find out what positions work for you. Try using props to make yourself comfortable if you need them. Chairs, pillows, supports and other props designed to help disabled people have sex are also available.

If your condition means you cannot masturbate, there are options, such as inclusive sex toys. You can find more information on these sites:

Let's talk about sex (Scope online community)

Relationships and sex (Disability Horizons)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 06/02/2024

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