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From the Library: The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability

February 2, 2010

The Ultimate Guide to Sex & Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain and Illness by Cory Silverburg, Miriam Kaufman, and Fran Odette

A lot of things are tied up in sex. There are emotional considerations, the physical interaction, gender stereotypes, and personal pleasure (plus a whole lot more). There are also a lot of things tied up in disability. Physical and mental pain, fatigue, self-esteem, societal stereotypes, and day to day interactions with the world (again, plus a whole lot more).

Able-bodied sexual interactions can be plenty complicated. When you add disability or chronic illness (which are already a part of the daily lives of many people), things can get really stressful, even to the point where it can even feel like sex and living with a disability are incompatible. A really crucial part of any healthy sexual experience is to be able to communicate what you want and need. This is especially true when you have a disability, because your needs are often not met without additional effort. This book provides support and encouragement alongside expert advice, all aimed at helping people living with disabilities and chronic illness to create a healthy sex life that works for them.

Much of the advice is aimed at general areas that affect wide ranges of disabilities: pain, fatigue, mobility, self-esteem, and communication. But no one section of the book has just one potential solution to a problem, and there are often sections dedicated to particular disabilities. Instead there are suggestions based on different factors (like comfort, relationship, etc.) alongside specific information from experts and plenty of resources. One of the best parts of the book is the different sexual positions based on ability, and tons of tips about masturbation, toys, and getting to know your body and your body’s schedule.

This book makes it clear that sex and pleasure are not lost causes for people with disabilities and are, in fact, very possible. The book is encouraging and supportive, and makes a point to address the unique concerns of self-esteem and communication often associated with disability. The book is tremendously helpful for anyone with a disability or chronic illness, or anyone engaging in sexual relationships with partners with disabilities or chronic illnesses. It’s sex-positive, easy to read, and recognizes that all people deserve to have healthy sex lives, regardless of ability.

Allie Schwartz, Gender and Sexuality Center librarian.
For more from the GSC library, check out the website.

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