Ageing bodies, physical disability and mobility issues should not spell the end of anyone’s sex life.
Even when bodies let us down, sexual desire does not necessarily stop. We asked sex therapists for their best tips for every body to enjoy a satisfying sex life. The best ways to enjoy sex when your body isn’t as mobile as you’d like!
“Remember, be kind to your body.”
So says Jess Wilde, resident sex expert for So Divine. “If you have an acute injury that is causing sex to be painful, it is perfectly acceptable to stop of nor have sex for a while – no one owes anyone sex, and taking a break, especially to allow your body time to heal, is sometimes necessary.”
learning new ways to share pleasure with your partner can be an important way of strengthening your connection, without damaging yourself or them in the process.
For those with chronic conditions or ongoing ailments, however, Wilde says that “learning new ways to share pleasure with your partner can be an important way of strengthening your connection, without damaging yourself or them in the process.”
Wilde, as well as Lyndsey Murray, an AASECT-certified sex therapist and the owner of Relationship Matters Therapy, and Dr Martha Tara Lee, a relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist and founder of Eros Coaching, share their advice that shows sex can be exciting and comfortable and, importantly, that sex tips for people with mobility issues are inclusive.
It’s not just about penetration
Wilde says that as well as discussing positions and accessories, it is important to expand the definition of sex for inclusivity and creativity: “A lot of people consider sex to be the penetrative part of intimacy, but in reality, sex can be any pleasurable erotic act that brings you sexual satisfaction – broadening your idea of what sex is gives you the power to explore so much more and enables you to discover new and exciting ways to connect with your partner – and with yourself.”
A lot of people consider sex to be the penetrative part of intimacy, but in reality, sex can be any pleasurable erotic act that brings you sexual satisfaction
Looking beyond penetration as the sexual be-all and end-all gives people “a wealth of new skills and tricks to modify playtime to suit your needs and prevent sexual intimacy being halted due to injury or bodily changes that can come with age and medication,” Wilde explains.
“There are always ways to have great oral sex if you are a wheelchair user,” says Murray, by way of example. “ensure you are at the right level, tilt yourself using your wheelchair features, and use the wheelchair as a way to support and stabilise yourself as the receiving partner of oral sex.”
Spooning rates highly with all three experts. As Murray says, “it requires no use of the knees and aside from penetration, the partner from behind has easy access to their partners genitals for sex outside of intercourse.”
Dr Lee adds that spooning ”takes the weight off the knees and allows for more control over the depth of penetration.” According to Wilde, spooning can be enhanced by placing a pillow between the knees for extra knee and hip support.
Murray says the plank is a great position for saving the knees of everyone, regardless of gender or sexuality: “This is where the receiving partner lies flat on their stomach with their legs stretched out and flat, and the top partner lies on them, stomach to back, and penetrates from this position.”
The benefits of the plank include skin-to-skin contact and, if the bottom partner has a clitoris, friction from the bed can enhance the orgasm, Murray adds.
Wilde says the plank can become more pleasurable if a partner with a penis wears a cock ring, or either partner – or both – use a butt plug.
If the bottom partner has knee problems, deep penetration can be achieved if they lift their legs in the air and bend their knees. Described by Dr Lee as “modified missionary”, Murray says this position, which works for vaginal, anal, and oral sex, as well as fingering, “doesn’t require any pressure on the knees, and your partner can hold your knees up if needed.”
Dr Lee also recommends two sitting positions to take the pressure off the knees: “The seated straddle allows for the receiving partner to be in control and can be adjusted to take the pressure off of the knees, while sitting on the edge of the bed allows for deeper penetration while taking the pressure off of the knees – and the receiving partner can adjust their body to find a comfortable angle.”
Sex with a bad back
Spooning makes another appearance. Wilde says it is “often hailed as the lazy sex position because of its lack of required exertion, as it really is a great one for sex that doesn’t trigger aches and pains.”
“With spooning, you can angle your body in whichever way takes the pressure totally off of your back where your partner can still penetrate or touch you,” says Murray.
With spooning, you can angle your body in whichever way takes the pressure totally off of your back
“If the receiving partner has a sore lower back, supported doggy style can be fab,” says Wilde. “The receiving partner should position themselves over something that supports them under their tummy – this can be the back of a sofa, a stack of pillows or a specially designed sex position pillow. The idea is that you bend over a comfortable object so that your body weight is entirely supported, removing any strain from your back.”
“Doggy-style doesn’t require any arching of the back for either partner, and you can angle your body while standing or kneeling in a way that is comfortable for your back,” adds Murray.
“The best sex positions for sore lower backs are those that reduce strain on the lower back,” says Dr Lee. “These include spooning, missionary with a pillow under the lower back, and side-by-side – it is important to experiment with different angles and positions to find the most comfortable option for both partners.”
Alternatively, simply moving from the bed to a firm floor can make all the difference for people with lower back pain, according to Wilde: “You can still make the floor comfy, with blankets and soft rugs, but the floor offers a more stable foundation which prevents the back from flexing when a partner is on top. This can be great for missionary, cowgirl and reverse cowgirl positions.”
Sex with limited mobility
“Spooning strikes again!” declares Wilde. “It really is so comfy and great for every body.”
“Beyond spooning, modified missionary can be brilliant for those with limited mobility,” Wilde continues. “The position can be modified to suit you, but suggestions include, having the receiving partner sit or lay on the edge of a bed or chair so they are supported, to laying flat on a bed and supporting certain body parts to improve comfort and the angle of penetration – a pillow under the bum, knees and head can really help with this.”
Whatever position someone with limited mobility chooses, Wilde says including sex toys, such as a rabbit vibrator, suction toy, finger vibe or male vibrator can help enhance stimulation and maintain repetitive motion, especially if there are difficulties with maintaining grip or consistent strokes.
Wilde says including sex toys, such as a rabbit vibrator, suction toy, finger vibe or male vibrator can help enhance stimulation and maintain repetitive motion
It’s another vote for modified missionary from Murray: “The receiving partner who may have limited mobility can sit on the edge of the bed, table or chair, and can rest their feet or ankles on a surface behind the partner who is in front of them.”
Any side by side position is a great way to have sex as a person with limited mobility because it is low-impact and highly intimate,” says Murray.
“Additionally, using a pillow or other props to support the body can help make certain positions more comfortable – and consider incorporating sexual aids like sex toys,” says Dr Lee.
Accessories to help with sexy times
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to have supported sex is to use pillows. While regular pillows are helpful under bums for elevating pelvises, Wilde says specialist sex position pillows are available: “These are usually extra dense and designed specifically to support two – or more – bodies in the throes of passion, and have removable washable covers. They are especially shaped to fit the contours of the body and offer optimum support in particular sex positions.”
“A household item like a pillow is something I always recommend because it changes the position of your body, naturally, and is a soft surface to lay on that can be comfortable during sex,” says Murray. “I also recommend couch cushions, a rolled-up blanket or towel, and chairs as ways to accommodate you and your partner in sex, whether it be placed below your knees, legs, back, or as something you place behind your back to hold yourself up if you are in a sitting position.”
“Other items such as blankets and towels can be used to provide extra cushioning or support,” says Dr Lee. “Additionally, sex furniture, such as wedges and ramps, can be used to help achieve a more comfortable and pleasurable experience.”
Wilde says that many sex toys that are targeted for the bondage market are “surprisingly beneficial” for people with mobility issues and assorted aches and pains.
“Sex swings, spreader bars and bondage straps that support limbs are perfect for making positions easier to get into and to maintain throughout sex,” Wilde explains. “Sex swings can make standing sex possible, while beginner-friendly spreader bars and bondage straps can help to hold body parts in one position, taking the strain off of muscles and joints, and give the other partner something to hold onto.”
Speaking of standing sex, Wilde says that this position can “take the pressure off achy knees” and “an over-the-door sex swing” can “level the playing field”, especially if you and your partner are different heights.
Sex swings can make standing sex possible, while beginner-friendly spreader bars and bondage straps can help to hold body parts in one position, taking the strain off of muscles and joints
Murray and Lee also advocate sex swings, which Murray says “takes away the responsibility of having to hold yourself up.”
“A sex swing is a type of harness designed to allow sexual intercourse between one partner suspended by the swing and another who moves freely,” says Dr Lee. “Sex swings provide support, comfort, and variety to sexual intercourse, allowing gravity to take over and provide new and exciting sensations – they can be used for a variety of positions, including doggy style, missionary and cowgirl, and for BDSM activities.”
“Harnesses designed specifically for sex aid mobility support are available from a variety of vendors – these harnesses are designed to provide support and stability during sexual activities, and can be used with a variety of sex aids such as slings, swings, and other devices, as well as being used to help with positioning and provide additional support for those with limited mobility,” says Dr Lee.
And sex toys are genuinely for everyone, Wilde reminds us: “One of my favourite ways to ignite intimacy and explore sexual connection with a partner without penetration is with the use of sex toys.”
“Mutual masturbation can be extremely exciting and pleasurable, and you can explore it however you like: take turns to play with each other to do it at the same time, or play with yourself in front of your partner,” Wilde continues. “You can sit opposite one another and enjoy the show face-to-face, or play in front of a mirror, and bullet vibrators are a great option for between-the-sheets couples pleasure, because they work on any body part and are a great way to add variety to play.”