I’ve had wrist, arm, and back pain since 12, I’ve had hip pain since 15, and I first remember masturbating around 10 years old. Essentially, I’ve been chronically ill throughout my sexual development. Throughout this, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with partners, but this article isn’t about them, it’s about you.
Let’s talk about pressure, sexuality, and chronic illness. Pressure can come from a number of sources – the medical profession, friends, family, and partners, but we’re going to talk about the pressure from partners today.
Pressure from a partner can come in any number of ways in the bedroom. From the initial suggestion of sex if you’re not ready, to during sex if you want to stop and they don’t. Pressure can be insidious, and sometimes you don’t realise pressure has been factor in your decisions until after the fact.
Sometimes having pain, illness, or accommodations that you need during sex are the most difficult things to communicate in the world. That difficulty can come from yourself, and the ability to accept you need help, the difficulty of telling your partner, and the reaction of your partner. Even if your partner is the most receptive person in the world, it can still be difficult to open up and tell them.
Why? Because people don’t talk about communication in regards to sex, and disability all that often. But, we need to. We need to open up the conversation, and realise that just because we’re disabled, have a disability, or chronic illness, does not mean people can treat us like rubbish, it does not mean we have needs that are a ‘trouble’ to cater to, and it does not mean that we’re not sexual beings.
You do not have to accept it. It’s really hard, but you deserve someone that will take everything about you into consideration.
For years, I had the idea in my head that I had to just ‘go along with it’ when I was uncomfortable during sex. I thought that my partners – some of whom were much older than me, were more experienced, and knew more. I was wrong. I know what’s best for my body, not them, because I experience my body, not them. Because I thought people wouldn’t want to have sex with me, I put off having sex, and being sexual with another person until I was 19. The message I kept receiving was that people wouldn’t want to have sex with me, so part of me took that message on board. I wasn’t educated enough, and I didn’t have enough of a voice back then, but I have a voice now, and I sure as hell use it. If you’re disabled, have a chronic illness or maybe five, or have accommodations that you need during sex, it’s hard, but you need to communicate it and you deserve someone that will work around you.
Just because people with chronic illnesses, and disabilities fought for so long to be visible (though it’s an uphill battle), especially within the realm of sex and sexuality, it doesn’t mean that the ‘work’ is done. It’s exhausting, but we should not settle for less that we deserve, and we deserve the world – especially in the bedroom. We deserve caring, and understanding partners – you deserve a caring and understanding partner. The first step to that though, is communication.
Why? Because you deserve it.