Q&A with Gillian - Let's talk about sex — Scope | Disability forum
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Q&A with Gillian - Let's talk about sex

Sam_Alumni
Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,682 Disability Gamechanger
Our theme for the next fortnight is Sex and Relationships and as it is Sexual Health Week, we have our resident Sex Expert Gillian answering all your questions and queries.  FPA is a sexual health charity and their theme is Pornography.

So if you have questions about sex, relationships, sexuality, pornography, sexual health, emotions or more, then ask away.

couple holding hands


Please be respectful of the community and eachother and be aware that this post is not appropriate for children and some people.  It contains adult themes of a sexual nature.
Scope
Senior online community officer
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Comments

  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    Good morning all and happy Sexual Health Week!  I'll be checking back between classes and 1:1 sessions - looking forward to hearing from you :)
    - Gill 
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,682 Disability Gamechanger
    Ill kick off @PSHEexpert

    I have had a lot of surgeries and sex is never ever discussed when they tell you about recovery, do you think doctors could be better about talking about sex?  It can feel a bit embarrassing to ask questions if even your doctor seems too shy to bring it up! 

    If you were Queen of all doctors, how would you encourage them to talk to patients?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Catman
    Catman Member Posts: 64 Courageous
    I suffer from Fibromyalgia and this definately affects my performance at times due to the pain and fatigue. My partner and I have been through a rough patch, I've stood by her despite her violence towards me, though at present she's living with her family on the Isle of Sheppey, quite some distance from me. Yesterday we met up again and are spending the week together. Last night was amazing tbh, despite the fatigue and pain from an epic car journey. I just made sure I was dosed up on my pain killers :-).  She's twelve years younger than me and it amazes me that I can satisfy a woman so young and so stunning, fortunately with our chemistry, there's no stopping us, hence today I'm aching in places the Fibromyalgia wouldn't normally affect. With the right person, no matter what your disability, a healthy sex life is most definately possible. 
  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    This is SUCH an important question - sexual wellbeing is so key to general wellbeing for so many of us and it's frustrating that it's not just automatically included, really, and I think that's right across the board, for non disabled people too (although there's no question that it's much harder to get a doctor to bring it up if you do have a disability).  

    If I were indeed Queen of the Doctors I think I'd want to sit them down and remind them how important sexual pleasure and connection is for people and that it needs to stop being so stigmatised.  I wonder sometimes whether doctors don't comment on it because unless it's their speciality, it's maybe regarded as being a bit rude to talk about someone's sex life?  Or perhaps they're worried that it might be insensitive to talk about function, maybe, when someone's getting over surgery, or is very ill, or who has a disability that limits them - as if sexual desires and needs switch off unless you're 100% physically fit and able (which we know isn't the case).  I would want to remind them how important intimacy is and that it's comforting and soothing, as well as sexual - and I'd be very keen to include masturbation within that conversation too.  

    Because sex is one of our basic urges, like eating and sleeping, it seems really counterintuitive to miss an opportunity to bring it up.  There's a link between immune function (which surely would affect recovery?) and sexual wellbeing - it's missing a trick!

    SHADA did work on a Sexual Respect Toolkit for doctors, I will go and seek out the link for it - it was specifically about the importance of raising sexuality and sexual expression with patients with disabilities, etc - came out a few years ago.
    - Gill 
  • the_velvet_girl
    the_velvet_girl Member Posts: 107 Courageous
    What are people's experiences of disclosing a disability when online dating? I never know when to bring it up. I think if I disclose it on the 1st message it either scares people away or they date me out of sympathy. If I wait until we have arranged to meet, I've had people unhappy that I've not informed them of my disability & I've even been stood up as the guy couldn't cope with my disability but didn't know how to tell me before hand. It's a bit of a minefield!
  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    I can only chip in my own experience here as I think it's so different depending on the individual and the person they're meeting...but...I have primary lymphedema, which has at times really impaired my mobility, and especially to begin with, I had quite a lot of (what I thought of as disfiguring) marks on my legs and awful swelling after a terrible bout of cellulitis.  Anyway, I came out and disclosed it really upfront because I was very self conscious about it, and had one guy try and convince me into having sex on the first date as "i needed to grab every day before I die" - turns out he thought I had a primary LYMPHOMA and that since I was obviously close to death (!) there was no reason not to just go for it and sleep with the first available man (!!) as clearly that would be a reasonable priority (!!!).  It was, all in all, a very unsuccessful date.  I sort of laughed it off at the time but YIKES - when I think back on it now I find it alarming that he would have been so at ease with trying to exploit a theoretical situation.  So I suppose I would proceed with some caution.  

    I'm about to go and commute/head to a meeting so I will be back much later (possibly tomorrow morning depending how late this runs!).
    - Gill 
  • JulieNeyt
    JulieNeyt Member Posts: 1 Listener
    How can I have sex with my Boyfriend as I have a incontinence problem?
  • Markmywords
    Markmywords Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    The real and perceived extra vulnerabilities of being disabled carry extra risks. :/

    That said, my view is never pass up an opportunity for happiness if it is genuine and a positive step. Don't be so afraid as to never reach out.

    Sadly I'm too damaged for any of this to be relevant to me now but I'm so glad the conversation is being had.
    I've found that doctors are often unable to maintain their objectivity and feel too uncomfortable to discuss such things. This applies even to GP's.

    Thanks for being brave enough to talk about the elephant in the room, especially if it's wearing stockings and suspenders ;)
  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    @JulieNeyt - this is a great question and a very sensitive issue.  I have only worked with a few sexually active clients who experience incontinence, and it affects them in different ways (it has certainly been an eye opener for me as it is an area that I need to learn more about).  I l found a lot of useful information on this page at the Bladder & Bowel Community: https://www.bladderandbowel.org/help-information/sexual-relationships/  
    - Gill 
  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    @MarkMyWords - I think your comment about perceived vulnerabilities is really important, and I wonder whether that contributes to the reluctance from doctors to engage in conversations about sex.  It's so hard to get the conversations rolling, and it really shouldn't be - why should it be up to the patient to have to initiate having their needs met?  

    - Gill 
  • Markmywords
    Markmywords Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    It could be @PSHEexpert .

    Also I think specialists have even more trouble than GP's as they never learn the social skills. Consultants are even worse; there are still a great many "Sir Lancelot Spratt" figures in medicine sadly.

    It goes further than sexual health too. I'm still meeting people in Haematology who are severely mentally scarred by what chemo, radio and a bone marrow transplant has done to their body and spirit. On top of that is becoming a social pariah and, as in my case, being dumped by a partner so they could get away from it.

    No counselling is available to help cope with the results of what their treatments have done.

    There are people worse off than me though and I don't want to steer the thread off course. It's difficult to stop looking inwards when every day is a battle. :/
  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    It is really shocking that there's not more counselling done routinely after traumatic treatments - unfortunately I just don't think there's any money left over to prioritise the issue of mental and emotional wellbeing (which I'm not saying is okay, btw - that wasn't me excusing the situation as I think it's horrendous).   

    It sounds like you've had a terrible time, I am so sorry to hear it.  That's awful, and it's only natural to look inwards as you say - we have to focus on our own stuff first and foremost and it's miserable that there is so little support available.  Services need to be targeted for when people are at their least resilient so that access isn't yet another barrier that needs to be overcome before any help can be had.
    - Gill 
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,682 Disability Gamechanger
    @JulieNeyt I was reading up on the NHS website about urinary incontinence and sex and they say this:

    Enjoy good sex despite incontinence
    Worries about embarrassing leaks during sex can mean you avoid intimate contact. This puts strain on relationships and damages your self-esteem and self-confidence.
    There's no reason why anyone with bladder or bowel weakness can't enjoy intimate relationships.
    If you empty your bladder and bowel and don't drink too much fluid before having sex, any leak probably won't be serious. Sex involves all sorts of bodily fluids, so a small leak probably won't even be noticed.
    It can give you peace of mind to protect the bed. Bed pads, which absorb moisture and have a stay-dry cover, may be the most comfortable choice.  


    I think communication is key, if you can talk to your partner openly and honestly, the experience will be better in the long run.  I always think that the sex you see in films and tv is so far away from real life sex! Sex can be messy, sex can be funny and noisy!  

    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • ClydeBuilt
    ClydeBuilt Member Posts: 40 Connected
  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    @ClydeBuilt - check out this very informative link: http://www.bishuk.com/sex/how-to-have-sex/ 
    - Gill 
  • ClydeBuilt
    ClydeBuilt Member Posts: 40 Connected
    I was being flippant but relevant. :(
    My wife called a halt on those proceedings some twelve years ago now and had to deal with it. There is no dealing with it, its kust over I suppose!
  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    Sorry! I'm used to that being asked as a genuine question (and I do think Bish has some great videos).

    That's a really tough situation, and I'm sorry to hear that it's so.  I realise you've probably been asked all this before, but has there ever been the opportunity to talk to anyone about it (ie do you think there's potential to resolve things or move forwards)? My sincere apologies if that's my asking a silly question; it isn't intended to be. It's terribly hard when sexual intimacy is withdrawn if that's not what you want. 
    - Gill 
  • ClydeBuilt
    ClydeBuilt Member Posts: 40 Connected
    No...there hasnt, Im rather old fashioned about these things so you can imagine how questions about toilet arrangements and self care from ATOS/SOLUS go down. My GP says Im a stoic, I imagine he means I put up with things rather than deal with them. He's right to a point, so it makes the whole q&a mind games harder to deal with too.

    There are one or two other issies going on at home as well.
    Bill
  • CockneyRebel
    CockneyRebel Member Posts: 5,217 Disability Gamechanger
    This is SUCH an important question - sexual wellbeing is so key to general wellbeing for so many of us and it's frustrating that it's not just automatically included, really, and I think that's right across the board, for non disabled people too (although there's no question that it's much harder to get a doctor to bring it up if you do have a disability).  

    If this is the case, should sex be available on the NHS for people that have no access to a partner ?
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • Markmywords
    Markmywords Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    edited September 2017
    It was privatised as "the oldest profession" @CockneyRebel :D
This discussion has been closed.

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