How to satisfy yourself as a single disabled person

Black and white image of a topless man sat down leaning back on his arms

We want to break the taboo around talking about sex and disability. Everyone, no matter what their disability or health condition, should be able to enjoy sex and pleasure. That’s why we’re publishing a series of sex stories from people with different disabilities talking openly about their experiences.

Having heard from a blind woman and a man who had a stroke, this week Tom, a wheelchair user with physical disabilities, talks about how he satisfies himself as a single man with erectile dysfunction.

My name is Tom Francis, and I was born 25 years ago with severe spina bifida and hydrocephalus. As a result of that, I am a wheelchair user and have assistance from carers four times a day. Without this, daily life would be a struggle.

I also need help getting into and out of my chair, and we all know how inaccessible the world outside can be. I am, therefore, also very grateful to have a good circle of able-bodied friends who are constantly watching out for me.

They regularly take me out to the pub (or at least, they did before coronavirus hit!) and we go to the cinema and to football matches together.

I have a pretty good social life, but there is one thing that bothers me. When the conversation turns to sex, as it inevitably does with a group of men in our mid-twenties, it’s awkward for me.

All of my friends are in couples, whether married, living together, gay, straight or bisexual – and I’m on my own.

Single and disabled

I have had girlfriends in the past (I’m definitely straight, by the way!), but none of the relationships has developed into anything serious or long-term.

That has had nothing to do with my disability, as such, but living with a disabled person can come with a degree of commitment in both time and effort. Many able-bodied girls in their 20s aren’t willing to give that – well, not the ones I have met, so far.

So, until I find someone who is right for me, how do I deal with this? It’s not just a case of saying: “Oh, forget about sex.” I still have the same sexual thoughts that any young man of my age would have.

But I also suffer from erectile dysfunction as a result of the damage to my brain at birth, so straightforward masturbation doesn’t provide a solution. So, what does?

Well, I learnt a while ago from a friend who works in the field of sex-therapy that sexual activity doesn’t have to involve the genitals. There are lots of ways to deal with my sexual urges – it just requires a little outside-the-box thinking.

Satisfying your urges

Firstly, there is erotica – both writing it and reading it. I loved English at school and with a little more drive from myself and encouragement from my family, I could have gone on to study it at university.

Nowadays, I keep myself occupied at home by writing short stories, and although most of them involve my other favourite subjects, sport and history, I sometimes venture into the world of erotica.

I don’t go too mad and I’m yet to write one about a disabled person. But I do have a pretty good imagination and the couples (it is usually couples) in my stories, do get up to quite a bit.

I’ve written about them having sex on the kitchen floor, sex in a shaded garden, mild bondage, playing with a wide variety of toys and discovering the various ways in which oral can enhance your sex life – my personal favourite.

I’m also a voracious reader and I have an extensive and varied collection of erotica. I’ll admit that some of it covers the things I can’t do (I really should publish something myself from the perspective of someone with a disability).

But a lot more doesn’t involve genital action. Instead, it involves the use of toys, touch, BDSM, smell (I love the smell of real leather underwear) and so on.

Outside of the written word, I have also learned to concentrate on what I can do, not on what I can’t. With that in mind, I have found a great way to pleasure myself…

I have a wet-room with a sit-down shower and nothing is more enjoyable than sitting in my wheelchair under the shower with the shower-head playing jets of warm water around my bits.

And yes, I’ll admit, I do watch porn. Nothing too strong, but I don’t see anything wrong with a disabled person using it to satisfy their desires if they wish. After all, disabled people are just as entitled to a fulfilling sex life if they wish as non-disabled people, aren’t we?

So, until I find someone who is willing to open their mind and look beyond the wheelchair, I’m keeping myself occupied – just like any other non-disabled person.

I’d be interested to get some feedback from what I’ve said here. Do people in my situation agree with me? What other ideas have people come up with?

By Tom Francis

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