Before we get into how to adapt sex toys for varying abilities and capacities, let’s begin with this premise: everyone has the right to pleasure. Granted, there are limits imposed by society about the wheres and with whoms of how pleasure happens, but in its most basic essence, orgasms should be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
Many activists and scholars center their work on promoting people with disabilities as sexual beings that have the same need and desire for pleasure, intimacy, and release as non-disabled people. While many barriers exist – the biggest of which is society’s assumption that being disabled means you’re asexual – one of the most tangible is based on mechanics. Sometimes, a body doesn’t move in a way that makes getting off easy. Spasticity or muscle weakness can make it hard to engage your genitals, nevermind being able to manipulate them to produce an orgasm. Fortunately, sex toys exist, and as technology grows, so does the potential for adaptive pleasure. Now, there are multiple choices of brands and design of sex toys for people with disabilities. Below is a guide to the basic ways different sexual enhancement devices can adapt for pleasure based on three parameters: general sexual functioning, mobility, and dexterity.
Products That Aid Sexual Function
Various disabilities can impact sexual functions, including difficulty with arousal, orgasm, or stamina. Sometimes, though not technically a sex toy, lube can help.
Lube: Medications, particularly SSRIs, antihistamines, and diuretics, can lead to severe dryness of mucosal tissues – including the skin that lines the vulva, vagina, and anus. Lube is meant to make sexual activity, with yourself or a partner, slippery. Lubrication makes sexual activity less painful. It makes insertion easy. Lube can be the difference between an accidental abrasion and an orgasm, particularly for sensitive skin. One of our favorite vegan, water-based lubes (which means it’s great for those silicone sex toys for people with disabilities!) is H20 Intimate Lube.
While there are many tools to use and things people with vulvas can do to get off, people with penises have been getting the limp end of the stick for a long time. Medications can assist with getting an erection, but many times, erectile difficulties can be a huge barrier to having an orgasm. However, those days may be part of the past. The Hot Octopuss Pulse Remote uses a special vibration technology, based on medical devices used for artificial insemination, to coax an orgasm (and ejaculation) from a penis – no erection necessary.
For folks with penises looking to please a partner through penetration, look into cock rings, which keep an erection harder for longer by restricting outgoing blood flow from the penis. If an erection is not within the realm of possibility, the Deuce Harness from Spareparts Hardwear has one hole for a home-grown penis, one for a dildo, and a pouch to accommodate the scrotum.
Being able to move easily through sexual gymnastics isn’t an option for most people. When taking into account mobility constraints (e.g., using a wheelchair, joint hypermobility, and body shape), even the basic sexual positions can be impossible without supports.
Sometimes, our bodies won’t hold the positions that make sex feel great. Enter the positioning aide. Modeled after adaptive positioning cushions from the medical community, things like Wedge and Ramp from Liberator can be placed under the hips, shoulders, lower back, or indeed anywhere, to make the reach, angle, and pressure more suitable for sexy time. There are also some slings, cuffs, and restraints like the Doggy Rider from Liberator that serve to hold parts of the body in place and can be useful for preventing fatigue during sexy time. Whether they are keeping legs over the head or arms from contracting, some traditionally kink-oriented gear can be used as position helpers.
When people picture harnesses, they generally think of those that fit on the hips and are used for “strapping on.” However, there are harnesses designed to fix a dildo to other parts of the body. Of particular interest for people with mobility concerns (and potentially those with erectile difficulties) is the Sportsheets Thigh Harness. This is a band that fits around the low to mid-thigh and allows a partner to straddle and ride the dildo.
Sometimes hands don’t function in the ways that make sex or masturbation easy. That’s where some of these really cool designs and new technology in sex toys for people with disabilities shine.
Primarily designed for people with vulvas, wearable vibrators may be a game changer for people with limited mobility. While there are many options, we’re focusing on grinding and rocking as the main method for using the toys. The Eva II by Dame was designed based on the finding that upwards of 70% of people with clitorises need them stimulated to orgasm. Eva II has two arms that sit under the labia, holding the vibrating body against the clitoris.
Sex Toys for People With Disabilities in the Palm of Your Hand
For some people, being able to grasp a toy firmly enough and then manipulate it into contact with the relevant parts of the body is hard, if not impossible. For those who need a little extra reach, finding toys with handles, especially those that can use lever-based motion rather than thrusting, can be beneficial to the orgasm process. While there are toys that come with handles built in, like the Tantus Echo, some double ended dildos are just the right angle to make penetrative action easier. Both the Tantus Feeldoe and Fun Factory Share lines have sturdy midpoints and easy to grip bulbs that are designed to sit in the vaginal canal when being used as a strap-free strap on.
Another potential point of difficulty for toy users is the control mechanism. Trying to change the vibration strength or pattern can be extremely frustrating, even with a full range of motion and expansive reach. Enter teledildonics, the fancy term for app-enabled sex toys. While many companies are making Bluetooth enabled toys, We-Vibe, with four app-enabled toys (with more on the way) and a beautiful and intuitive interface is leading the pack. The concept shines with the Nova, whose unique shape and app compatibility make it one of the most adaptable toys on the market. Instead of having to fuss with on-toy controls, the Nova connects to your phone, making it remote controllable.
Regardless of how a body works or functions, the world of sex toys for people with disabilities is rapidly growing to be more accessible, and that’s something to celebrate!
Vibrant Has Body Safe Sex Toys for People With Disabilities
Vibrant has an array of body-safe sex toys for every body. Check out our curated collection of toys and books, too! Or, chat with us, and we can help recommend the product that’s perfect for you. We’re available 9am-9pm EST daily on our website chat (just push the purple button at the bottom right!) or call us at 866-316-VIBE(8423).