Today’s AWAP Wednesday* video answers a question from a fellow ChronicBabe. She’s wondering how to get more comfortable with her sexuality so she can have confidence in dating… but she feels somewhat limited by her inability to have what is considered “sex” in popular culture.

I’ve got news for her (and you): There is no “normal” sex. There is no standard way to do it. Once we stop measuring ourselves against this narrow standard, the experience gets a whole lot easier.

Here’s my advice to her and any other women with chronic illness who want to explore their sexuality with confidence:

Now it’s your turn:

Now it’s your turn: How have you handled the challenge of exploring your sexuality after chronic illness or disability shows up? How do you research your options? How do you handle initial conversations on dates? I want to know! Join the conversation in the comments below.

Want to watch more videos like this? Check out our AWAP Wednesday video playlist, which has almost six hours of guidance, advice, and bloopers.

Is there a question I can answer for YOU? Add it to the comments below, or shoot me an email.

Until we meet again: Be AWAP! Smooches! *AWAP = As Well As Possible


A (rough) transcript:

Q: I wonder if you could address sex/sexuality and chronic illness. Obviously everyone is effected differently by their illness. I can’t have what is generally considered “sex” by our culture, but I can enjoy some sexual pleasure with another patient, imaginative person or by myself. Still I find myself feeling insecure and overwhelmed when I think of embarking on a new relationship or even furthering my own exploration of my sexuality.

A: Great question. You’re a brave babe for asking it, too, because most people are too afraid to talk about sex. But not me!

Because we’re not talking face-to-face, I’m not sure how you define “what is generally considered ‘sex’ by our culture.” I’m going to assume you’re talking about consensual, missionary, penetration-style sex between a man and a woman.

Don’t worry, you’re normal

So let’s shatter the myth right now that you’re not “normal” if that’s not your scene. Plenty of people — and when I say people, I mean women and men, straight, gay, bisexual or transgendered individuals because this conversation is all-inclusive — plenty of people never have what our culture narrowly defines as “sex,” because it doesn’t work for them. That might be because they have limitations from disability or illness, or they just may not be into that kind of thing.

Get to know yourself sexually

The best way for you to build confidence, in my book, is to get to know yourself. The more you try new things — new positions, toys, locations, times of day — the more you’ll understand what turns you on and what gets you off. When you’re confident about that, dating — and starting new sexual relationships with people — gets a whole lot easier. You’re better able to tell your partner what you want and need, and why.

Keep an open mind

This kind of self-awareness also helps you keep an open mind about potential partners. Sex is a huge spectrum; there is every kind of sex act under the sun, that you can perform by yourself or with a partner (or partners). And when you’re out in the dating scene, you never know who you’re going to meet… so try not to let fear get in the way.

You may meet someone who’s great on paper, but who isn’t compatible with you sexually. Or the reverse could happen.

I encourage you to view these experiences NOT through the lens of having disability or chronic illness, but through the lens of simply being a human being. I takes a lot of the pressure off.

Educate yourself

Finally, I encourage you to check out podcasts like Savage Love, which is a super-inclusive, educational and fun listen and there are hundreds of episodes to peruse.

Read books like Our Bodies, Ourselves, and The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex.

If you Google “dating websites chronic illness” or “dating websites disability” a ton of options pop up, so if you want to skip ahead a few moves, they might be an option for you.

Read, read read about your particular illness or disability and its impact on sexual activities.

Talk with your doctor about how your meds might affect your libido and your ability to orgasm. Become an expert on your own sexuality.

How about you?

You’ve got your marching orders, babe. I hope you get out there and get it on.

Now it’s your turn: How have you handled the challenge of exploring your sexuality after chronic illness or disability shows up? How do you research your options? How do you handle initial conversations on dates? I want to know! Join the conversation in the comments below.