October marks the start of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) Awareness Month but what does that actually mean for those of us who are diagnosed with it?
When it comes to ADHD, I can’t tell you the number of ways it affects me from my workplace to my travel to, unfortunately, my relationships. There is so little out there for adults with ADHD in terms of research, especially for those of us who are queer, transgender or non-binary. When it comes to sex, the information can leave a lot to be desired.
However embracing our sexuality, and our ADHD, is important. While ADHD can make things like choosing the right toy or reaching orgasm more difficult, it’s not impossible. Communication and education can go a long way.
Here are three of the biggest things I wish I had known about sex, my brain and ADHD.
1 – Focus
One of the biggest stereotypes about ADHD is that we can’t focus. In reality, it’s not quite that simple as ADHD-ers struggle with regulating focus- either too much or too little. We cannot get our brain to focus if we don’t want to or break focus if we are locked into something we find interesting.
In the bedroom, that lack of focus can be a libido killer in that it can make it hard for us to stay in the mood, maintain an erection or achieve orgasm. The results of that can be a frustrating experience for everyone involved.
The opposite is true sometimes in that we can be so focused on everything around us that we find it hard to make time for sex. Coupled with a lower sex drive, I find that I can get so lost in my work that I fail to notice the hours slip past before it’s too late and a partner is already asleep.
When it comes to sex toys, I never really got the hype but I also never considered this may not be my fault. So few are designed with neurodiversity in mind that they often arrive with overly complicated instructions, flashing buttons and LED-what-the-hells!??! By the time I have navigated the box, I have little spare mental energy to engage with pairing it to my phone.
Overwhelm can lead to a lot of not-sexy emotions including frustration, anger and sadness. Many ADHD people will experience shutdowns or meltdowns which are exhausting and can cause someone to completely withdraw.
It’s not just about toys though as some lubricants or massage lotions can be too much for neurodivergent people. The smell or texture can be too overpowering or feel uncomfortable on the skin. If that happens, it can make people feel awkward, anxious, nauseated or panicked. It may also ruin the mood by being the only thing they can notice in the room.
3 – Risk
When we make a decision to have sex we calculate a risk. We make a decision to wear a condom, use lubricants that are safe with our toys or bodies or we choose our partners carefully based on a number of factors. Those of us with ADHD struggle with decision-making as we can be impulsive and look for the potential reward that comes with taking a risk.
The bad thing is that there isn’t always a reward. A study in 2017 revealed that teenage girls with ADHD are three times more likely to get pregnant accidentally while ADHD boys are twice as likely to get someone pregnant.
Another study on medicated and unmedicated ADHD patients revealed those without medication were three times as likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection. Interestingly, the same study showed that medication cut this risk by 40%.
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