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How I Have Sex: ‘Masturbation Is More of a Headache Than Actual Pleasure’

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Oct 10, 2021

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Image Credit: Hitesh Sonar For The Swaddle

In How I Have Sex, we bring you candid retellings of people’s sexual lives that explore the multidimensional nature of this human experience. In this installment, 28-year-old P. talks about navigating her sex life with cerebral palsy.


I was born with cerebral palsy. I have spasticity in my legs, which means my body is not very flexible. My disability impacts desire and experiences quite a lot. Of course, for the longest time, I was used to the idea sexuality and disability don’t intersect because of how we’re conditioned. I mean, the whole idea of dating and sexuality came with a lot of hesitation.

The whole connection with someone is important to me before sex. Otherwise, they have their own idea of a disabled human being. That is a hindrance. 

My first time was a little weird actually. There was a lot of navigation — in terms of deciding the position and other things. My partner kind of freaked out because I was bleeding a lot; he didn’t expect that. I was scared after the first time because of the bleeding and pain. It wasn’t the best sex, but I learned what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. 

Most of the time I’m in my wheelchair. When things escalate, my partner moves me to the bed. I need assistance to undress as well — so that’s also mostly on my partner. Even when we’re in bed, there has to be communication. For example, I get leg spasms sometimes, so we talk about how to work through that. That’s how it technically works with me is by both of us, my partner and I, actively talking about what’s making me comfortable. Like stretching my legs or making me sit, there is some level of support that’s happening constantly.

My spasticity gets in my head sometimes. I wonder if my partner will — I don’t know — feel strange about it? It does take away the charm and make me insecure. But I’m working on it. Spasticity does decrease sometimes after [the sexual experience]. This also impacts my desire only when I’m thinking too much about it. Some spasms do tell if I’m liking the foreplay or anything else.

I don’t masturbate that often. For a lot of things, I need assistance — for changing and all of that. In general, since there is assistance [and help], it reduces the idea of masturbation, at least in my head. It is hard to masturbate because I either have a caretaker or live with my parents. In my parents’ house, I have negative privacy in general. When I did have my own place, you still had to let go of a lot of your privacy because of hiring a caretaker. So I don’t enjoy the idea of masturbation; it’s more of a headache than actual pleasure.


Related on The Swaddle:

All You Need To Know About Cerebral Palsy


I tried a vibrator, but that was also with my partner. Since I also live with my family, there is hardly any space. Plus, with my disability, there are added things that compromise my privacy. So the idea of a vibrator at home alone doesn’t work for me currently. I hope it does some time.

But I have a medium to high sex drive. That way, sexual desire does get attached to another person — yes, of course, it does. A lot of sexual desire, at least for me, comes from the part of connection and intimacy, for it to be sexual. For me, it’s easy when someone knows me or is my friend. When I last enjoyed sex was before I broke up with the person I was dating. It was a shared intimacy, with how my then-partner understood my body, how we navigated through it, and what helps me be more comfortable as I’m someone with a disability and spasticity in my legs.

Even for deciding a position, we talk about it. Because, of course, my body works in a certain way, we want to enjoy sex, and then it’s important the other person is comfortable, and I’m relaxed. I find the missionary position lovely to make love to someone (even though people diss it). That’s probably my preferred position in terms of comfort. When someone appreciates my body, I enjoy that more when a partner plays with my breast or ass. Kissing turns me on quite a bit; for me, that’s when I know it’s working or not working. My erogenous zones are the neck and my boobs.

I’m into tease and denial a little bit, but I’d like to try it a little more. I like to do markings for my partner in bed, and I do like it when a partner marks me too. One of my most memorable orgasms was with my last partner — I think he went down on me, which helped. I’m still not super comfortable with going down on men — maybe once in a blue moon. What I don’t like in my bed is probably spanking. It just doesn’t work for me — that and the dirty talk. 

I wouldn’t say I like watching porn because of the male gaze. But also, disability porn currently available treats disability as a fetish rather than real intimacy. I don’t enjoy it at all. It has some disability fetish, and I realize I don’t want to be f**ked like this. 

That whole process of going on a blind date and just doing it, in general, the physical aspect of it, is challenging. My body has certain limitations; plus, I think the person might not enjoy it in my head. It’s been a work in progress and still is at times. It has to do more with the conditioning than my own body.


This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Written By The Swaddle Team

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