Part 2 of Disabled sex What are they able to teach the rest of us about sexual fulfillment?
By Jill Clark, Timesonline, London, UK,
Last episode Disabled couples know more about sex
Andy and Michelle were at training college when they met in 2003. Andy, 47, had separated from his wife after losing his leg in a motorcycle accident and being confined to a wheelchair.
He needed someone to talk to, and she enjoyed listening. When Michelle’s marriage failed, their friendship led to romance.
Having learned from the mistakes of their first marriages, the couple, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, attribute the success of their relationship to good communication. “We tell each other everything,” says Andy, who took up sailing after his accident and now competes nationally. “We say ‘I love you’ several times a day.”
Michelle, a teacher, says: “I was sexually active when I was 15. Sex with Andy is the best I’ve ever had. We don’t hold back, and no subject is taboo. I don’t understand women who say they’ve never had an orgasm. Why don’t they tell their partners? It’s about communication — otherwise you can stay in a rut for 20 years.”
Once married, the couple made a pact to lose weight, which led to them being crowned Mr and Mrs Slimming World 2008. Between them they shed 14 stone — a huge boost to their self-esteem and their sex life. “Body confidence helps with sex and with letting go, which in turn helps towards orgasm,” Michelle says.
Sport is what brought Sarah and Barney Storey together. “Without sport we wouldn’t have found each other,” says Barney. Both are 31 and professional cyclists: Sarah, a Paralympian, was born without a left hand; Barney is able-bodied and a tandem pilot.
He was attracted by her outgoing nature and impressed by her skill as a cyclist. It helps that the couple appreciate each other’s ambitions. “It’s important being with someone who understands what you go through and that you need to focus,” says Barney. And both regard sex as a matter of trust and fun. “Don’t just assume what you think is right during sex,” says Barney. “Talk about what you want and you’ll both get more from it.”
“Sex is about enjoying yourself,” adds Sarah.
Another person who finds sex fulfilling is Dawn Gerrard, 23, a young person’s development worker from Cheshire who is blind. In the absence of sight, she says, sex is often more sensual, with more touching, feeling and talking. “You shouldn’t be scared to try anything in the bedroom. Blind people are often attracted to a tone of voice rather than looks, as well as a person’s outlook on life. This can make relationships more meaningful.”
Lee Pearson, OBE, who was born with twisted limbs, is a dressage gold medalist. Aged 35, he is openly gay and has never had problems attracting men, which he attributes to his confidence and good looks. But he is looking for a partner who is also a best friend, someone he can trust and confide in. “The disabled people I know aren’t hung up on their bodies,” he says. “They’re more worried about getting a spot or a wrinkle. They can’t change their frame or limbs, and are stronger people for that.”