Photo of Shana

Things I’ve learned about sex

WARNING - This blog is explicit. (Mum and Dad - please don't read this!)

My ex-husband and I split up 10 months after I was diagnosed with MS. I was 29 years old, a wheelchair user and struggling badly with fatigue.

I'd had to sell my business, been signed off work permanently and was learning to self-catheterise. I believed I was unattractive and that no one would ever find me 'sexy'. I was resigned to being single and non-sexually active for the rest of my life.

Adjusting to my MS diagnosis

Yet a tiny, nagging voice kept reminding me that this wasn't what I wanted. Not forever.

I gave myself a couple of years to adjust to my diagnosis, get my medications sorted, become confident with self-catheterising and adapt to my new life. Then I sought out a counsellor who understood my goal – to be able to trust a man with my body again.

It took time, but the counselling worked. Over the past five years I’ve had several relationships (and great sex!) with gorgeous men who remain close friends.

So, this is what I’ve learned…

I explain how my body works

When I start seeing someone, I’m really upfront about how my body works and explain it clearly before sex. I explain what positions I can and can’t do, and that if he wants me in a particular position he’ll need to physically put me there.

I explain that I can seem really responsive and totally into it from the waist up, while my legs can remain stiff, motionless or jammed firmly shut. Which can give really mixed and confusing signals – but I’m definitely into it!

I come prepared

I hand over the lube, explaining that I don’t get wet, no matter how turned on I am. I explain that I rarely orgasm through penetration, and point out the bag of sex toys and vibrators. And tell him that if my legs or bum muscles kick-off and start spasming violently, that means he’s doing really well!

Most importantly, I am clear that I’m not in pain and he’s not going to hurt me.

I clear my diary

Scheduling ‘sex nights’ into my diary is really important. I ensure I have a quiet, restful day leading up to it, and don’t make any plans for the following day - I know I’ll be exhausted.

I can have sex at other times but having definite, fun plans in the diary means I never feel guilty about saying ‘aww, not tonight!’ to spontaneous advances.

I have fun

Sex is fun and fulfilling. The fact I have to talk about it and be so upfront, forces communication about sex. And that gives us both permission to say what we want and need. Great!

So, perhaps one day I’ll meet someone who’ll be a partner for the rest of my life. Perhaps I won’t. But I no longer feel that MS is a barrier which will stop me.

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