I was never that bothered about sex before I discovered I was disabled. Suddenly, when sex became problematic and it seemed as though my illness might prevent me from having it, I realized how much I’d missed out on. Instead of savoring my orgasms and enjoying the physical side of a relationship, I’d put sex on the back burner and assumed that one day I’d be having more of it. I didn’t realize then that as a disabled person, sex can be empowering.
Finding out you have a lifelong, chronic and potentially degenerative illness is a shock to the system. Sex wasn’t the only issue on my mind when I was diagnosed just after my 30th birthday, but it bubbled under the surface, begging to be considered. While I prioritized starting treatment and learning to manage my condition (relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis), I knew I wasn’t ready to give up on sex. However, some medical professionals borderline shamed my interest in it.
One therapist suggested that companionship should be enough for someone in my position, especially as all relationships head that way in the end. According to her, I was too demanding, particularly as my illness seemed to be responsible for the majority of the issues in my relationship (according to her). But sex still felt essential, like a Netflix show everyone else was raving about but my subscription had lapsed.
That’s why when I started having more sex with my new partner, it was a revelation. Not only was I experiencing a side of life that I hadn’t had much access to before, I was also learning to understand my body better. MS has changed me in many ways, making my sensation unpredictable and pain a daily constant. But having sex in spite of my health issues was empowering and a chance to seize control over a part of my life I thought I’d lost.
During my first major relapse, I lost sensation in my legs, which led to me losing my orgasm. As a result, I was majorly concerned that I’d never orgasm again and that a whole aspect of life was suddenly off limits to me. But thanks to sex with my new partner, sensation returned and I learned to orgasm within the limitations of the new confines of my body.
Fighting against disease and finding a way to climax despite nerve damage was incredibly empowering and made me more positive about my future. Since my body could achieve pleasure again, MS didn’t feel like a life sentence, as there were still aspects of life I could enjoy.
Before diagnosis, sex was a part of myself I’d not really explored yet. While my body is different now following multiple MS relapses leading to reduced mobility, sex is definitely better than ever. And perhaps, most important, I’ve found a partner who wants to explore sexuality with me. Instead of focusing on good old-fashioned intercourse, sex is about so much more now and is rarely halted by multiple sclerosis. Because sex isn’t just penetration; vibrators, lube and touching all aid the sexual experience, particularly as I’ve struggled with loss of sensation and numbness.
Sex isn’t important to everybody, and that’s OK. But for me, it’s a part of my life that’s developed post-diagnosis. Sex makes me feel physically stronger and more connected to my body (despite its many faults) and reminds me that I’m still capable of so much.