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Sex and Limited Mobility: Are there any harmful sex positions for mobility challenges?

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22 Sep 2023

 Sex and limited mobility: a young bi-racial couple embraces on a bed while fully clothed

We had people submit their questions to our Resident Sexual Health Clinician, Dr. Kathryn Ellis, OTR/L, OTD, AASECT-SC, an occupational therapist and American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists Certified Sexuality Counselor. 

When it comes to intimacy with limited mobility, there are two approaches I encourage people to take. One is to figure out what is difficult to do. What sexual activities specifically? 

Is it penetration? Is it oral? Is it fingering? Is it missionary style? Is it standing up? What exactly is the activity that's difficult to do? And consider if there are any adaptations or modifications that could make that easier. 

For example, perhaps it's difficult to be on top during sex because of mobility issues. Is there an adaption you could make to being on top that would make it easier? Could you be in a seated position where your partner is seated and then you are straddling your partner? Could your partner help support you or your torso? 

That would be a type of accommodation because you're still on top but using some different strategies to support you. 

That's one approach that is very important: what can you modify, such that you can continue to do the activity?

The other approach is really exploring and thinking about all the sexual activities that you can do with the mobility that you have. 

For example, perhaps it's an issue of how strenuous the activity is. If that’s the case, you can think through sexual activities that are less strenuous or that require less physical labor from you. It’s important to have conversations with your partner about continuing to be sexual with them, but doing different activities than perhaps you're used to. 

Looking back at the original question: are there any harmful sex positions for mobility challenges? 

That is very specific to the individual. Think about your contraindications, the things the doctors or your therapists have shared that you shouldn’t be doing. Then think about the specific sexual activities that you want to be doing. Is it going against the guidance you received from them? 

Also, you can circle back to your doctor or an occupational therapist or a physical therapist that you're working with. These clinicians are probably not bringing up the topic of sex with you. Often, a lot of clinicians wait for their patients to bring it up. And while that is not ideal, the reality is that when you do bring these things up to your OT or your PT, they probably can help you workshop. 

They can help you with your specific body and your specific needs and the specific activities that you enjoy doing when you're having sex. So if you have these people in your life, it’s a good idea to loop them in. 

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