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Sexuality

Sexuality is a natural part of life. For many women, sex is a way to feel pleasure, to express love and desire for their partners, or to become pregnant with the children they hope for. But sexuality is more than having a sexual relation with someone. The way a woman is intimate with her partner, the way she relates to her own body and the way she thinks about herself as a woman are all part of her sexuality.
Women with disabilities can have, want to have, and have the right to have and enjoy close, loving, sexual relationships. Sometimes community attitudes influence or limit how women with disabilities experience their sexuality. If people in a community understand and agree that women with disabilities have the same needs for love, sex, and family as everyone else, then a disabled woman is able to:
•express sexuality in a way that gives her pleasure.ch.7 Sexuality
•choose her sexual partner.
•negotiate when and how to have sex.
•choose if and when she becomes pregnant.
•prevent sexually transmitted infections.
•be free from sexual violence, including forced sex.
Learning about sexuality
Too many girls with disabilities ޮfist learn about sex when someone abuses them or lures them into having sex. Health workers, family, fch.7 55riends,  and helpers can include girls and women with disabilities in talks about sexuality and womanhood. Include
disabled girls in sex education programs and teach them about sexuality. This can help protect girls from men who want to take advantage of them. For information on sexual abuse.
In some communities, girls learn about becoming a woman from a respected elder in their community. In other communities, girls have special ceremonies when they become women. In still other communities, groups of girls get together to share experiences. They learn from each other as they talk about the latest
hairstyles and clothes, boyfriends, and their favorite pop stars. Girls with disabilities need to be included in these gatherings.

Finding a loving partner

Like other women, you deserve a partner who respects you and cares for you. You deserve a partner who will listen to you and who treats you well. You deserve to find someone who loves you for who you are—a partner who values your strengths and who will help you with your limitations. You deserve a partner who wants your help, your trust, and your love. Many women who find loving partners say they refused to believe wrong ideas about disability. They gained skills and found ways to contribute to their families. And they learned to respect themselves. When you respect and value yourself, you are more likely to find a partner who respects you too. For information on self- esteem

Abusive partners

Sometimes a woman feels she must settle for any partner, even one who abuses her, or one who may not care for her or provide support for her or her family. Sometimes a woman accepts a person who will help bring money and support her family. Or a woman may trade sex for food or for the help she needs to survive. At other times, it is the woman who works and the man who takes her money. He tells her she should be grateful to have him. When a woman is valued by her family, community, and herself, she has sexual relationships with people who treat her well. She will not accept partners who hit or abuse her.

Arranged marriages

In some communities families arrange marriages for their daughters. When this happens, a disabled woman is often treated as less valuable than any other woman. Her family may arrange her marriage with anyone who will accept her, even if her future husband will not treat her well. The woman herself may agree to the marriage because she does not value herself or she thinks no one else will want to marry her. Sometimes the husband demands a bigger dowry or other payments from the family because the woman has a disability. Or the disabled woman becomes a second wife and is not treated as well as a non-disabled wife. If a man asks for more money or gifts to make up for a woman’s disability, it is a sign that he does not respect her as a woman. Often, he will abuse her in other ways as well

Feeling pleasure from sex

It is natural for a woman to want to share sexual pleasure with her partner. But sometimes a woman may not feel pleasure from sex. There can be many reasons for this. If her partner is a man, he may not realize that a woman’s body responds differently to sexual touch than a man’s body does. The woman may have been taught that women should enjoy sex less than men, or that she should not tell her partner what she likes, whether her partner is a man or a woman. A woman’s disability may make it harder for her to feel pleasure. She may need to find different ways to have sex that feel good—especially if she has only recently become disabled. Just as she takes care of her daily personal hygiene in ways that work for her disability, she can also be sexual in ways that work for her disability to bring her pleasure.

How the body responds to sexual Pleasure

Both women and men feel sexual desire, but their bodies respond differently to sexual thoughts and touch. When men and women have sexual thoughts or are touched in a sexual way, they feel excited. More thought and touch make the body more excited. It is easy to see sexual excitement in a man, because his penis gets hard. The woman’s body also gets excited, but it is harder to see. The clitoris gets hard and may swell, and the labia and walls of the vagina become sensitive to touch. The vagina becomes wet with a clear, slippery ೀuid. Her nipples too may swell and become sensitive. If sexual touch and thought continue, sexual tension builds up until she reaches her peak of pleasure and has an orgasm (climax). When orgasm happens, the energy and tension is released throughout the body, especially in the vagina. Generally, after orgasm a woman feels relaxed and full of pleasure. When a man reaches his peak of pleasure, his penis releases semen, a fluid containing sperm (ejaculation). After orgasm, his body relaxes and his penis becomes soft again. Touching the clitoris is the most common way a woman reaches orgasm. It may also happen from rubbing inside her vagina, with a penis or with fingers. Her breasts and anus may also be sensitive to touch. It often takes longer for a woman to reach orgasm than a man.It is possible for most women to have orgasms, but each woman’s body and experience is different. Women who have less feeling in their lower body may need more pressure and firm touching on their clitoris, sometimes at the same time as pressure in their vagina, in order to have orgasm. Even women with spinal cord injury and women who have no feeling in their bodies do have orgasms, though they may feel them differently. Different women have different places on their bodies where they feel pleasure and like to be touched. Most people think of a woman’s genitals or breasts as the “sexual” parts of her body. But a woman’s hands, neck, face, and belly can also be sensitive areas that give her pleasure when they are touched. For women who are paralyzed or have a spinal cord injury, these other areas can become so sensitive that they can feel pleasure like orgasms because of being touched. All the senses—touch, smell, hearing, taste, and sight—can be important and satisfying ways to feel sexual pleasure. Each person, man or woman, with or without a disability, experiences these senses in his or her own way. For a blind woman, touch, smell, and hearing might be most important. For a deaf woman, touch and sight may be the most satisfying parts of sex. A woman can learn about the sensitive parts of her body and about how to have an orgasm by touching herself, or by letting her partner know what feels good. This will be especially helpful for a woman who has recently become disabled. It may make her partner feel good to know how to please her.

Talking with your partner

Many women are ashamed to talk about—or feel—their desires. But it is natural to feel desire and to want a relationship that makes you feel good. If you plan to have sex with someone, it will help to talk with that person ahead of time about things like safer sex and family planning. Talk with your partner about any limitations in your movement and about ways in which your body may respond to sexual stimulation. Sometimes a partner worries that sex will hurt a woman or be dangerous because of her disability. This can lead to lack of desire. When each partner knows the kind of sexual talk and touch the other likes, they can both enjoy sex more. Each person’s desires are different, so the best way to learn what another person likes is to talk with one another and experiment. Good things to talk about are: •where it is easier to have sex. For example, on the bed, in your wheelchair, in a chair, or on the oor. •what position hurts or could be more comfortable. •how your disability affects how your body works. •how you can give each other pleasure, and what does not feel good. •if you tire easily, what times of the day or week you may have the most energy for sex. If your partner is also your caregiver, it can be helpful to talk about the difference between the time you spend together for care and the time you spend together as sexual partners. IMPORTANT. Whether a woman has a sexual relationship with a man or another woman, it is important to practice safer sex to prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. If you or your partner have had sexual relations with someone else, it is also important to go for an HIV test before having sex with your partner. For more information. Also, if you want to have sex but do not want to get pregnant.

 

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