5 Ways Being Disabled Impacts My Sexuality

Illustration of a person with flowers covering their breasts and pubic area.
Written by Karli Drew
Illustration by Jessica Oddi

Alright, so here’s the thing: I’m unapologetically vocal about sex. I’m also unapologetically disabled. The two aren’t in the same realm of traits, obviously. But being disabled impacts my sexuality and directly influences how I approach everything related to sex.

It surprises (and often even intimidates) many non-disabled people to find out I’m confidently open about both sex and disability. In my youth, I thought their shock was from widespread misconceptions that all Disabled People are non-sexual and lack desire altogether.

Seriously, though… it’s the 21st century and everyone should already realize:

  • Asexual people are valid—disabled or not. Some disabled people are asexual, and some aren’t. There’s no correlation to a person’s disability or lack thereof.

    (Oh and by the way, asexuality is a spectrum and it isn’t distinctly synonymous with “non-sexual”. Those truths surprise lots of people, too.)

  • Disabled people are multidimensional badasses who don’t exist as a hive mind. This is a good time for me to point out the personal experiences I talk about in the rest of this post aren’t universal. Being disabled may have had the opposite effect on another’s sexual journey, which is completely fine! We’ve never been “one size fits all”, and I can confirm we never will be.

Now let’s get to the real reason you’re reading this.

These are 5 ways being disabled shaped my sexual prowess:

1) I unleashed the benefits of being blunt.

I briefly touched on this above, but it’s worth expanding. First off, my mobility is very limited so I don’t have a viable way to use body language beyond the odd eyebrow wiggle. Sure, I could successfully seduce someone with the proper combination of facial expressions. Even so, being blunt is so much more fun and productive. It removes ambiguity and guesswork from the equation. How could that be anything less than beneficial for everyone involved?!

I’ve never regretted being tactfully direct with someone. Even if the other person isn’t into it, it’s better to know and direct your energy elsewhere. This isn’t only effective in salacious endeavours; being straightforward is arguably the most powerful tool in any life quest.

Whether you’re trying to get laid or get paid, be brazen! This leads us to my next point…

2) I had to remove shame, in general, as a barrier early on in life.

My life’s details (i.e., everything associated with my particular disability) aren’t meant for the shy of heart. I can be socially awkward at times, much like anyone else. But there’s a big difference between social shyness and unnecessary shame.

I rely on people for physical assistance with (almost) everything. For example: I need someone to wipe my butt Every. Single. Day.

Of course, this is always objectively done by the wipee (me, in this instance) and the wiper. The same mindset is taken for all aspects of my care and I can’t imagine viewing it differently.

This is why I’ve never had a purpose for shame. Once I reached an age where the idea of sex became relevant, attaching shame or weirdly-heteronormative-and-gendered stigmas didn’t even occur to me. I mean… doesn’t shame crush the goal of pleasure and intimacy?

Still, I understand the topic of sex makes plenty of people uncomfortable so I never inject it into conversations where it’s an unwelcome exchange. Consent is essential for more than just physical interactions, folks.

3) I put an emphasis on patience—and safety!

I eat slowly. I type slowly. Everything else: I do slowly. There’s really nothing in my life I can rush, especially because tons of things would put me at risk of physical danger (or worse) if it’s hastily done. I choose to be patient, otherwise my day-to-day life would be unbearable.

As a result, I also don’t rush relationships and/or intimacy. In fact, much of my safety depends on it.

Comfort, communication and trust are vital to engage in consensual sex and relationships for non-disabled people too. The importance is just heightened for my disabled self and achieving all three means patience, patience, with a side of patience.

Luckily, this leaves me with extra time and sexual energy to go into my next two… uhhh… hobbies.

4) I became an expert sexter.

Practice makes perfect, right? I know, I know: sexting has a bad reputation. But the problem lies with aggressive and unsolicited… “junk mail”, which isn’t sexting (remember: consent is everything).

Actual sexting serves as the perfect opportunity to explore your own kinks (i.e., preferences) and limits. All while mastering your communication skills and staying safe. You’ll learn more about your sexual side than you could any other way.

It’s also an excellent way to gauge your compatibility with another person without any substantial or urgent pressure. Visuals are optional but not necessary; it’s entirely up to the discretion of the sexters.

Those are a few of the many reasons I’m on Team Sext.

5) I overeducated myself on sex.

Sex education is dangerously inadequate as it is. Add a disabled person into the mix and schools are like, “no sex ed whatsoever for this one!”. That’s a rant for another time, but it’s an actual problem for disabled people worldwide.

The natural solution was diving into the unfiltered facts myself (thanks, internet). I began to occupy my brain with plenty of practical (and some useless) sex trivia. Again, this boils down to safety. It’s crucial to arm oneself with knowledge (if possible) BEFORE hormones take the driver’s seat in a steamy moment.

…Plus I find sex facts incredibly fascinating and it’s quite the conversation-starter. It’s also super interesting to discover new and exciting tidbits from other people.

An endless supply of things to learn!

Closing thoughts to consider

Now I’m trekkin’ towards thirty. I’m no longer convinced stereotypes are the primary reason I catch so many people off guard. These days I'm certain it’s because society simply isn’t used to people embracing identities, bold truths or unconditional confidence. I prefer seizing all three, and I think being disabled is responsible.


Karli Drew (@karleia) is a vibrant-haired copywriter, content writer and disabled activist. She’s all rock’n’roll; no walk, just droll. Learn more at karleia.com!

Jessica Oddi (@oddi.jessica) is a disabled graphic designer in Canada with versatility to spare. She is particularly interested in collaborations involving much needed representation, inclusivity and empowerment


Read more

Illustration of a mother (with a visible c-section scar) with her partner behind her. Her partner is wrapping her arms around her stomach.

Mothering and Intimacy with Janelle Gullan

vector illustration of a black person with blonde hair leaning back in their wheelchair while a white person with red hair is giving them oral.

Replacing the P in Pain with Pleasure! - A Guide

Illustration of a couple in a gym setting. One person is doing a sit up and kissing the other who is in a plank position.

Get them to the gym!


tripichick October 3 2020

wow. i respect you for sharing about the butt wiping. that happened to me immediately post stroke. I crapped a numbers of motel and and shelter beds too since post stroke I have little sensation except during sex.

All comments are moderated before being published.