Trusted for 23+ Years
Sex Toys For Disabilities
Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert
The Importance Of Sex Toys
Sex toys and sensual products are often marketed solely as pleasure products in the sex toy industry. This sole focus disregards many in the disabled community who depend on sex toys to orgasm, have sexual intimacy, and even procreate. That is why we have created several guides that review not just sexual products that address mobility but address other considerations and features for those with disabilities. We also humbly invite those who are disabled to contact us with any questions or concerns so that we may offer the most current services and products to the disabled community.
Disabled People & Sex Toys
Disabled people use sex toys for the same reasons as non-disabled people, for pleasure, sexual experimentation, and sexual health. However, in some cases, disabled people rely on sex toys to aid them with physical, mental, and emotional challenges.
For example, those who struggle with erectile dysfunction (ED) can use penis rings, pumps, masturbators, vibrators, and prostate massagers to assist them with achieving an erection or, at the very least, with sexual pleasure. Another example are women who have difficulty reaching downward to stimulate their clitoris can use wand vibrators with long handles or hands-free vibrators so that they can more easily stimulate themselves. Regardless of the disability or reasons for using sex toys, they can be a great way to enhance one's sexual experience solo or with a partner.
Not All Disabled People Can Or Want To Use Sex Toys
Not everyone enjoys using sex toys, which is true of disabled people as well. Sex toys are not magical, nor are they guaranteed to give pleasure, and anyone telling you that something is a sure thing is lying to you. No one can promise that a sex toy will work for you. It is a subjective experience based on many factors. However, should you want to try them, this guide will review various aspects of them so that you can have realistic expectations about using them.
Separating Hype From Function
There are plenty of articles that promote specific sex toys as being ideal for those with disabilities, but the truth is that many of those articles are just hype surrounding products that the author is trying to promote with little regard as to what type of disability one has or the many varying features of sex toys that make them suitable for those disabilities. Some of these articles are downright insulting and a form of pleasure and health washing sex toys.
Whether challenges are due to physical, mental, or sensory impairments, they can impact sexual functioning and, thus, sex toy preferences. Because not all disabilities are alike, rather than list a few specific sex toys, let's explore what features of sex toys may be appealing depending on the challenges faced.
Vibrators Invented For Disabilities
Misinformation has been spread on the internet about the invention of the vibrator. The claim is that vibrators were invented so that physicians could treat (masturbate) what was once termed hysteria (sexual frustration) in women. However, historical documentation has shown that there is no documentation that this was a condoned treatment and may very well be a myth or something done by unscrupulous doctors. Part of the problem came from people doing research who did not know the difference between satirical writing and genuine medical literature from the time period.
Vibrators were used in various clinical settings to treat many chronic illnesses and disabilities, from paralysis to insomnia. The electric vibrator was invented by a physician named Joseph Mortimer Granville in the 1880s. It was designed to treat working men struggling with physical pain, fatigue, and ailments. Not until the 1900s were vibrators marketed to the general public for various health benefits. Women were the ones who later embraced the vibrator for sexual pleasure but now more men do as well. Vibrators and other sex toys have come a long way and are now a wonderful resource for those with disabilities.
Planning for sexual activity can make things go more smoothly. For example, certain physical disabilities can mean that using the bathroom can take some time. Thus, preparing by using the restroom prior to sexual activity can make the experience more enjoyable without distractions.
Other advanced planning such as considering what positions would work or be comfortable, finding ways to modify positions, sex toys, or having a partner or caregiver help with preparation may be helpful. In addition, having a plan for easy clean-up is also a good idea.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Be aware that the use of vibration with certain injuries and disabilities can put you at risk for autonomic dysreflexia, so before using a sex toy, please make sure you speak with your physician. Also see our helpful guide on this topic: Sex Toys For Spinal Cord Injuries Guide.
If you are concerned about having to urinate or defecate during sexual activity, remember to consider doing the following to prevent unwanted accidents:
- Empty your bladder and bowels before sexual activity.
- If you use a suprapubic catheter, you may want to tape it to your lower abdomen to keep it from pulling and keep it out of the way.
- Use a pillow, wedge, or sex pillow to tilt your pelvis upward. It will keep pressure off your bladder and bowels. If a partner or sex toy penetrates the vagina or anally, it can also allow for deeper penetration.
Low-sensory Sex Toys
For some people having too much mental stimulation such as intense lighting, music, or loud or powerful sex toys can be distracting or irritating. Determine if this is a concern before sexual activity takes place by asking about power, sound preferences and lighting, as this can make a big difference in having a positive sexual experience or one that is more challenging.
Avoiding Scented Items
When purchasing items for yourself or gifts for someone with autoimmune conditions, allergies, sensitivities, migraines, etc., be aware that certain scents, especially highly scented items, can trigger adverse physical responses. You may wish to avoid things like scented candles and oils. If you buy a sex toy that has a scent, you can let it breathe and do what is known as off-gassing so that it can adequately cure and release any residual odors. You can even place it outside covered with a breathable fabric to help it air out.
Sex & Professional Caregivers
Caregivers such as occupational therapy practitioners need to understand that sexual health is a part of overall health. Becoming aware of sexual products and how they may assist disabled people is vital to caring for the activities of daily living (ADLs) to increase quality of life.
It may feel embarrassing if one does not have an intimate partner to position a sex toy and you have to rely on a caregiver to help you, but rest assured, our sexuality is a natural part of being human. An educated caregiver will understand that this is simply part of helping you stay connected to your sexuality. Just make sure to discuss healthy boundaries and appropriate behavior and expectations beforehand.
Protecting The Skin
Protecting the skin can be quite crucial for those with disabilities. In cases where there is a loss of feeling, it can be even more vital to pay attention to the condition of the skin. When using sex toys or even straps and harnesses, ensuring that the skin is well protected during use is important. Paying attention to how much friction the skin is enduring as well as preparing the skin for stimulation is ideal, especially if you have decreased sensation, as it is easier to injure oneself without realizing it is happening.
For those with hypersensitivity, some sex toys, such as powerful vibrators, can be too intense and, in some cases, painful. Using sex toys with low vibration settings or manually applied, such as non-vibrating massagers or dildos, may be a better fit.
Setting The Mood
It can feel a bit awkward using a sex toy the first few times. Allow yourself time to experiment with it and consider having some things in place that set a pleasant mood for your sexual experience. Here are some suggestions:
- Play music that allows you to feel sensual.
- Use your imagination, and if with a partner, share what arouses you.
- If you are alone or your partner is open to it, look at sexually arousing images.
- If with a partner have them sensually touch you all over. If alone, use sensual touch if you are able. Feel your skin and focus on sensations throughout.
Factors To Consider
Determining the physical accommodations you require will be vital for a seamless experience when using a sex toy. Here are a few factors to consider.
- Does the sex toy need to bend or curve?
- Will it need to be a certain length to reach?
- Does it need to be hands-free?
- How accessible are the controls?
- Do you require a remote-controlled sex toy?
- How much does it weigh?
- How loud is the vibrator, and will others hear it?
- How powerful is the vibrator?
- Is it durable, and can it withstand being dropped?
- What are the sex toy materials or ingredients pertaining to allergies or sensitivities?
Sexual Products For People With Disabilities
Various factors can require lubrication. When using a sex toy vaginally, it can be beneficial to use lubrication even if there is natural lubrication vaginally as sex toys can produce drag along the skin and mucus membrane inside the vagina. Hormonal changes, pregnancy, surgery, stress, menopause, medications, nutritional factors can all influence natural vaginal lubrication as well, so always having a lubricant available is a good idea.
In addition to vaginal play, using sex toys anally always requires lubrication. Furthermore, using oils and lotions on the skin in places where friction occurs during sexual stimulation may also be helpful.
For more information, see some of our lubricant guides:
Hands-Free Sex Toys
Sex toys that are hand-free come in a variety of styles. Some allow you to turn them on and then let them do their job, while others feature a remote control or app that will enable you to control it without holding the sex toy during use. See our hands-free sex toys.
Examples of a hands-free style of sex toy include Wand Vibrators that can be placed in sex pillow holder (sex pillow mount) or placed on the genitals or other erogenous zone and does not require one to hold it in place.
Should one choose to hold a wand vibrator, they have large handles which allow for a comfortable grip making them easier to use. In addition, Wand Vibrators do not require pinpoint accuracy, so those with mobility issues do not have to focus on holding them with great precision.
Lay-on vibrators are any vibrator you can lay on the genitals, nipples, etc. You do not have to touch once in use. Examples of vibrators that can be easily laid on the genitals are palm-sized vibrators, panty vibrators, and wand vibrators. It really depends on the size and shape of a vibrator as to whether it could be used in this way; however, many vibrators like this can be used hands-free.
Remote-Controlled Sex Toys
Other examples are app-controlled and remote-controlled sex toys such as panty vibrators, anal toys, and other vibrators that can be placed against the genitals and controlled remotely without holding the sex toy.
Often marketed to couples, some vibrators can be used solo as well. An example of such couples sex toys are C-shaped vibrators which can be inserted to stimulate both the clitoris and G-spot hands-free. Couples vibrators are not just for couples and can be adapted to serve individuals with disabilities.
Sex pillows are firm and ideal for holding your body in a comfortable position during sex; in addition, some models are designed to hold sex toys so that they can be used hands-free.
Finger vibrators are technically on the hand, but you do not have to hold on to them. They attach to the fingers so that the user can simply stimulate the genitals, nipples, etc., without grasping anything. They are particularly good if you have cramping, spasms, or pain in your hand when you try to grasp things. While most finger vibrators on the market have weak vibrations, we carry more powerful motors to provide more intense stimulation. In addition, one can also use high-powered penis rings on the fingers.
Straps, Harnesses & Swings
Using sex toy swings, straps and harnesses, and other bedroom gear can help make sexual positions and sexual stimulation easier. There are various products from which to choose, such as unconventional harnesses that allow one to attach a dildo onto one's thigh, arm, and even a pillow allowing for hands-free use. Doggie straps also enable one to better hold on to one's partner during sexual play. Sex swings and BDSM straps can provide additional support as well as a means to pull oneself up or help with mobility issues while in a bed or chair.
See our Bedroom Gear for various options.
Air Pulse Sex Toys
Some disability sex experts have suggested that air pulse sex toys are great for those with mobility issues because they do not have to be moved after they are put in place. However, it should be noted that you have to hold them in place over the clitoris to create a seal while using them, so it may not be a good option for people with challenges such as arthritis.
For those people who struggle with incontinence and weak pelvic floor muscles, using Kegel weights may be helpful. They are not necessary to do Kegel exercise but can assist in creating increased strength. Learn more through our related guides, How To Do Kegel Exercises, and How To Use Kegel Weights.
Anal toys such as prostate massagers can help achieve an erection. Stimulation to the prostate has long been used to help achieve erections when there are challenges. Utilizing a prostate massager that is hands-free as well as featuring a remote control option can be quite helpful. Getting an anal toy with a flat, flared base may be preferable over one with a handle or ring as one can sit on them.
Suction Cup Sex Toys
Sex toys that have suction cups on the bottom can allow for hands-free use and can be attached to headboards, chairs, tables, walls, showers, and more.
These are another form of hand-free vibrators that allow the user to wear them in underwear or that come with straps that enable you to put them on like underwear. One of the first was the Original Venus Butterfly; however, there are many other options now. You will find these under hands-free sex toys.
Sex Toy Adaptations
There are three ways one can adapt a sex toy to meet their personal needs:
Combining Sex Toys
You can combine sex toys. For example, you can slide a vibrating penis ring over a dildo to make it provide stimulation to the clitoris, anus, or perineum. You can also insert vibrating bullets into masturbation sleeves to make them vibrate, and you can put penis sleeves over dildos to make them thicker.
Altering A Sex Toy
Altering a sex toy to make it more user-friendly for your needs may be ideal. You can adhere a handle onto a sex toy to make it easier to hold. You can place it on or in something to hold it in place, and you can alter a button or switch to make it easier to control. Using tape, foam, tongs, grab bars, and other items can help you adapt a sex toy to your liking.
Using Sex Toys Intended For Another Purpose
Sometimes using a sex toy intended for another purpose may suit your needs better than a traditional sex toy. For example, using a very long dildo may be ideal as you can use the extra length to serve as a handle. Using a strapless strapon intended for double penetration may simply serve as a handle. (See our Strapless Strap-on Guide for more information). Penis rings can be used as finger vibrators or be slid over a tube or dildo to allow one to create a handle for it.
We are always looking to update our guides with more information, so after reading this, if you would like additional information, please let us know as we love making our educational services even better. Make sure to also check out more of our related guides on disability and sex: