Improving Your Sex Life

Sex is an issue for many individuals after paralysis. Wondering how things work and what to do are often asked questions. This blog contains some tips for enhancing your sexual experience.

women with manPregnancy is always a possibility. Always. Even if you are a male who does not ejaculate or a female whose menstruation has temporarily ceased due to paralysis. Sperm can ooze out without your knowledge. Ovulation occurs without a period. If pregnancy is not desired, use birth control.

Relationships can be difficult to develop for everyone, with or without paralysis. Think about the kind of relationship you would like, such as long-term or short-term. Determine your sexual preferences. Meet people. Most people will not be interested if sex is brought up too soon. Be cautious if using the internet. There are some relationships that started online, but many where people are not representing themselves. Do not provide money, bank account, or personal information. There is an entire business of bilking people out of resources. Do not let this be you.

Use Your Brain Sex is mostly a brain activity. That shocks a lot of people, but the sexual response is mostly in the brain. The body is just the stimulus. Use your senses to see your partner’s responses, hear their sounds, feel their touch and sensations, and smell the sexual experience. The senses can be used to mentally heighten your own sexual experience.

Set the Mood, which may include music, dim lighting, a cozy environment, fragrances, etc. Different individuals like different ambiances. These cues will let your partner know your purpose. Start slowly to get to know preferences. Beware of pornography as this is often a power-based theme.

Exploration can be used to become familiar with your body as well as your partners. You may want to self-explore privately prior to a sexual experience with another person to learn what stimulates your body and your responses. Exploration with a partner can become a part of foreplay. For example, ticklish parts of your body, lightly stimulated, can be arousing as are other sensitive body parts. Scars lightly stroked can be stimulating. Do not forget areas of intense sensation such as the ears, neck, breasts, and genitalia.

Positions: Finding a position that is comfortable for you and accommodating for your partner is key to a rewarding sexual experience. The use of pillows, bolsters, or other supports to support your body in the position that best fits you and your partner’s needs. Ideas about safe, supportive, and satisfying sexual positions can be found on moderated sites on the internet. Just one example is Craig Hospital which has an excellent video for all types of scenarios. You may find some new positions that will spice up your encounter.

If you feel you can safely use your mobility equipment, some individuals will use an overhead lift to enhance rhythmic activity. There are sex seats, such as the Intimate Rider, available that will also provide these results. Sex toys can be used. Some lines are adapted for those with hand challenges.

Mechanics: Lubricant is often essential for those with paralysis. Your regular lubricant for catheterizing and bowel programs is often too goopy for sexual activity. It can be used but more efficiently is a thicker lubricant such as Astroglide. You will need to find the lubricant that is right for you and your partner. Some can be expensive; some are flavored. There is a wide choice.

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Follow Up: At the appropriate time, ask your partner about their experience. What did you do that intrigued them? You can also express what they did that was desirable and what was not. It is important to have open communication as you proceed in your relationship.

It is sometimes hard to remember that sexual satisfaction may not be the same as prior to injury or disease; however, as you continue your relationship, it does become satisfying, even though the feelings are different. 

Pediatric Consideration:

Sexuality for children should always be at their level. Small children do not have the hormones, or development level to understand sexual relationships. But they should know their body parts. Answer questions at their appropriate level of understanding.

All children should learn about appropriate and inappropriate touching. This becomes especially important if others are providing personal care.

As children go through puberty, they should know how their bodies change. As they develop into teens, it is an appropriate time to begin discussing sex and reproduction. You, as a parent, will be able to approach the subject individually with every child.

About the Author - Nurse Linda

Linda Schultz, Ph.D., CRRN is a leader, teacher, and provider of rehabilitation nursing for over 30 years. In fact, Nurse Linda worked closely with Christopher Reeve on his recovery and has been advocating for the Reeve Foundation ever since.

Nurse Linda

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

This blog is not intended as medical advice, or to replace behavioral health care. Please consult your healthcare team.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10,000,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.