Sexuality and relationships
This information is relevant for people with a physical disability, their families and those who support them.
- Sexuality can be difficult for everyone to explore, especially if you have increased mobility, personal care or complex communication needs
- Disability can lead to physical problems as well as psychological problems when it comes to having sex and being / feeling sexual.
- Embarrassment or shame can deter people from asking questions or seeking support about a very private issue.
- It is extremely important that people have all the necessary information to enable them to make good decisions.People with physical disabilities have asked for information to be made available.
- It is often not discussed enough, or at all, by health professionals. This can be because it is not a usual conversation starter for regular appointments.
- Often people don’t know who to seek support from or that there are possible strategies that could help them.
- Contraception is another important consideration. It needs to be effective, physically and culturally appropriate, age-appropriate and be used as independently as possible.
- Consent for people who have decreased cognitive function or impaired ability to make informed decisions needs careful consideration.
- A protective behaviours program can offer support to ensure personal safety.
How can health professionals support you?
- Your general practitioner (GP) can assist you with understanding your health and provide contraceptive advice and disease prevention.
- Social workers and psychologists can provide information re: consent, safety, protective behaviours, relationships, sexual well-being and self-esteem.
- Occupational therapists can support with modifications or equipment to support a healthy sexual life.
- Physiotherapists, and to some extent speech pathologists, may also be able to support you with the physical aspects of having a fulfilling and active sex life.
Agencies and resources you may be interested in:
Healthy WA – has a file on general contraception options
Independent Living Centre – Provides assistive technology and equipment, which includes assistive equipment to support people with disabilities to have a safe and active sexual life.
Family Planning New South Wales –has a file about sexual health and family planning
Family Planning Victoria – has a section on sexuality and possible challenges for a person with a disability explained
Family Relationships Online – file with interesting articles for consumers and families
FPWA Sexual Health Services – Provides sexual health services, information and training for men and women of all ages. They advocate for the removal of laws which discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexuality or gender, or which restrict the choices available to
Address: 70 Roe Street Northbridge, WA 6003
Phone: (08) 9227 6177
New South Wales Council for Intellectual Disability – has a file on contraception for people with disabilities
People First Programme – part of Family Planning Association of WA, providesCounselling & education for people with a disability in sexuality, relationships & protective behaviours
Protective Behaviours WA – safety and vulnerability support and training
Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) – provides services to males or females aged 13 years and over who have been sexually assaulted or abused. Services include a 24-hr emergency service and a free counselling service.
Sexuality, Education, Counselling and Consultancy Agency (SECCA) – Offering counselling, protective behaviours training, sexual health information and education for people with disabilities. They also have resource library from which anyone can borrow
Phone: 24 hour crisis line: 9340 1828
Sexual Health Quarters – information and resource library that anyone may borrow
Married man with a disability speaks about his life with his wife:
Interesting for professionals, link to many articles which address disability, sexuality and contraception: