Sex is for everybody, period, but while at least 1 billion people live with a disability worldwide, they remain underrepresented in the adult retail industry. Some sex toy companies have struck back by creating custom furniture and sex aids.
Of course, aids such as sex toy mounts and positioning pillows aren't just for people with disabilities; anyone can enrich their sex life by owning one. Hands-free toys and props give you the chance to get creative and experience new sensations.
The roster of challenges
"The biggest challenge disabled people face is how society views disabled folks as strictly asexual or not worthy of sex," said Evan Sweeney, a sex and disability educator at Cripping Up Sex in California. "The logistics of sex are easier to figure out—you just have to think creatively. Props and toys are great for people with chronic pain or limited mobility."
Limited mobility is the most common disability type, affecting 1 in 7 adults.
"Mobility can be an issue in two ways: Pain can cause limited mobility or it can flare up in certain positional contexts," explained Carol Queen, author, activist and staff sexologist at adult toy retailer Good Vibrations, which has stores in California and Massachusetts.
For example, someone with limited mobility might have trouble getting into certain positions or moving from one position to another. Then there's the mental aspect to consider.
"Just getting into a headspace to be able to see their bodies as sources of pleasure can be difficult," said Searah Deysach, sex educator and owner of the Chicago-based online sex shop Early to Bed, which sells accessible toys.
Even if a person feels sexually liberated, libido comes into question, as well, due to the likely presence of pain or discomfort. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20 percent of U.S. adults live with chronic pain.
"When the condition causes chronic pain, it can be challenging to enjoy sex or feel up to it, even though arousal and orgasm are experiences that can help relieve pain," Queen said.
In addition, people with chronic pain may have difficulty finding the motivation for sex due to side effects such as depression.
How sex furniture and aids can help
All kinds of props can make your sex life more pleasurable. You may have some pieces of furniture or accessories, such as cushions and pillows, lying around not fulfilling their full potential. More sophisticated products may require a little online research.
"Sex pillows can provide back support, offer something firm to kneel over or hold on to in a sideways position, and some even have a curve that allows them to rock, supporting intercourse," Queen said.
"I use a ramp or wedge pillow myself to adjust the angle at which I'm penetrated or penetrating," said Caz Killjoy, a disability activist and sex educator who co-founded the Disability and Sexuality Access Network. "Angle adjustment is especially useful for pain management. Ramps can be beneficial for supporting bodies that are giving or receiving oral sex, as well as penetration from behind."
Sex toy mounts
For people who have limited hand mobility, sex toy mounts create a hands-free way to enjoy sexual pleasure.
"If someone has to rely on a caregiver to help with many personal tasks, finding ways to masturbate can be an especially big challenge and [sex toy mounts] can go a long way to helping many people have more sexual independence," Deysach said.
Sex toy mounts can hold some masturbation sleeves, wand vibrators, dildos and vibrators.
Harnesses can be a more affordable option than mounts. Harnesses, in a wide array of shapes and sizes, can help keep toys in place, but for a slightly different purpose.
"For folks who like to engage in strap-on sex but find that the typical hip-style of dildo harness would not work, there are thigh harnesses that someone can easily wear in a seated position," Deysach said.
There are also wand harnesses that let you strap a toy onto a pillow, allowing you to lie on top of it or hug it.
"This is especially helpful for folks who may find it hard to hold on to a heavy wand," Deysach added.
A sex stool is a sturdy metal frame with elastic straps that helps ease the strain of holding yourself up while you ride a sex toy or partner. These are particularly helpful if you experience knee pain or fatigue.
Sex chairs or slings
"Slings, swings and stools, or chairs, are great for people with limited flexibility, folks who tire easily and anyone who wants to [have sex] while their body is suspended above the ground, even if only by a couple of inches," Killjoy said.
With slings, one person can lie down while the other rocks the apparatus back and forth, taking some of the pressure off using their hips for movement.
Some companies, such as Spokz in the United Kingdom, created sex chairs specifically for quadriplegia. They offer a natural gliding movement to improve sexual mobility. All you have to do is move your upper torso to build momentum.
"For people who cannot do traditional sex positioning, thinking of what makes their bodies most comfortable in general, then exploring how to utilize that during sex to make it most pleasurable is key," Sweeney said.