I’m a sexual being and I have chronic health conditions, what do?

Let’s be honest, we live in a sex-denying culture. Society perpetuates the idea that we are not allowed to be sexual beings. Society does this cruel thing of placing us in these boxes of what we can do, what we absolutely, positively CANNOT talk about, how to dress, how to act, the list goes on. I am here to tell you, we are sexual beings and it is okay to be in touch with your sexuality. And contrary to popular belief, persons who are disabled and those who live with chronic health conditions, we are sexual beings too!

Now,  If YOU live with chronic, visible or invisible conditions and disabilities you are absolutely still a sexual being! Maybe we just need to navigate some different approaches, some different feels, sensations, toys, maybe? Like with anything, as us therapists will tell you, healing and growth is not a linear process. Rediscovering your sexuality can be all encompassing; enjoyable, pleasurable, frustrating, grief stricken, joyous, all of the above. That’s just it though, you have the opportunity to rediscover what sex means for you. What sex feels like for you. What is pleasurable, what is not. Remember, be gentle with yourself during this process. You are navigating new territory, be gentle, be patient. And remember to breathe. Negotiation is such a powerful tool. Negotiate with yourself your limits around pleasure, around what rediscovering your sexuality is, and can feel like, for you. Now we love a good disclosure moment. Disclosing to your loved ones, your partner, or partners, playmates, is an art. I say the art of disclosure because you get to decide who you disclose to and who you don’t. Your sexuality is for you.

Now, if your partner (s) or playmate (s)  lives with chronic invisible conditions and disabilities here are some words of wisdom from a therapist. If your partner(s)/playmate(s) have the courage to disclose this information to you, be gentle. Sometimes it can be very difficult to even disclose and share the information about our conditions. Please oh please,  do your research! What a lovely way to show up for them by taking the time to understand their conditions and how these conditions can influence their pain tolerance, areas of functioning, energy levels, etc. Negotiate a scene or sexy time with them that tailors to their conditions, symptoms,  and flare ups. This could look like identifying what level of sensory input feels good for them, or scheduling breaks. It is okay to take a break from pleasure and come back together. Pun intended. Ah yes, revisiting the power of negotiation, what have you negotiated with yourself, with your partner?  What are some of their limits? What are yours? And remember, it is always okay to go slow. Can I still be this sexual being with my partner who lives with disabilities and chronic health conditions?  YES you can. Ask yourself and your partner (s) What am I comfortable with? What am I NOT comfortable with? Let’s revisit the art of disclosure, shall we? If your partner (s) and or playmate (s) has the courage to disclose to you, it is ALWAYS okay to safely communicate what you need!

Remember, this is a journey, as many things are. Your sexuality is evolving and unique to you. Connecting with yourself, with your body, with your conditions and disabilities is a gift, albeit a difficult one to receive at times. Be gentle with yourselves, with your partner(s) and or playmate(s). And if you need help or support (which everyone does) speak to your therapist or seek therapy. We are here to help support you during this beautiful journey of discovery.

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