Sunday, January 25, 2009

Let's Talk about Sex

Here's a posting I know will hike up my stats on the visitor counter. Let's talk about sex. Well, I'll go first, then you can comment if you want to.

In Halifax this weekend is a trade show called The Everything to do with Sex Show. I went yesterday and am going back with the Wookie today. This show has been held in Toronto and Montreal for years and this is its first foray into the uncharted waters of the conservative East Coast. Actually, we're not as conservative as some have deemed us, and there are a number of fetish groups in the city.

The main reason for me attending this show is to get information on methods and devices to aid the disabled community. I have addressed this topic as it related to MS a couple of times at forums for and about MS patients.

Most of the vendors at this show are providers of sex toys, costumes, devices etc., like Fantasia and Sexy Girl. There was a Swinger's Club with a booth set up, the Halifax Sexual Health organization was there with info, there were tattoo folks, hair folks, hair removal folks. You name it, they were there. There's even a dungeon set up by the local BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) community. And there are scheduled talks and demonstrations (though no nudity or sex acts are allowed). It's all very interesting, and the psychologist in me finds a lot of the different communities absolutely fascinating.

Anyway, I am pleased to report that my research has paid off. I have discovered a few things that I will be able to pass on to other MS patients.

For most men with MS, the biggest dysfunction seems to be getting an erection. That's why God invented Viagra. It is of great benefit to those who need it and use it. And docs hand it out quite readily.

For women, sensory issues are a biggie. Some of us (me included), have been subject to those horrendous pins and needles for extended periods of time in the genital area. While the first few minutes may be rather pleasant, the ensuing days or weeks of it can be downright torture. I'm pleased to report that a desensitization product, made by Durex (the condom folks), can be used on women. It was made for men to slow down their ejaculation by slightly numbing the penis, but it can be used safely on women as well. I have yet to meet anyone who has tried the product so can't comment on its effectiveness but it's worth a try.

Lack of sensation is another biggie for women and there are many more products (gels and oils) on the market for that problem. Take your pick.

I came across a couple of products that needed to be explained to me, but I think are absolutely brilliant. They are penis "sleeves" of a sort that enable a person to get a much better grip on the penis with their hands. For those of us with arthritis or muscle contracture of the hands these would be ideal. And one of them even has two little loops attached you can put your fingers through for more dexterity. They reminded me of those "Good Grips" kitchen utensils.

There are tons of vibrators on the market, with different shapes and materials. I even found a waterproof glove with a vibrator in it, and it's very much like swimsuit material so easy to clean and care for.

I have talked to a few MS folks over the years whose spasticity is worsened by orgasm, making it a painful event. Massage before sex can help reduce the occurrence of spasm, though not always, and I often suggest that folks try out different positions to see which has the least negative effect. There are a number of swings, slings, and pillows available to adjust position.

If money is tight (and there does seem to be a large markup on these items), improvise with items found around the house. The glove can be made with a simple bath glove found at the dollar store and one of those little "bullet" vibrators (the waterproof kind) may be put in one of the fingers. Pantyhose, upholstery rope or scarves may be used to manipulate limbs to adjust position, and everyone can use their own pillows as support.

I did talk with a couple of people from the BDSM community. They have suggestions for increasing sensation, from simple over the knee spanking to absolute pain (which I won't get into). There are also electrical stimulants that, again, I won't get into, but I see a possible role in their use for some people.

All the men and women I talked to were open and willing to talk about whatever it is they're into. And the main things that were stressed were consensuality, safety, and respect.

So, links to check out:
Bonnie's Bedroom


Sexy Girl

As for BDSM communities, there are groups in every city. Start with Wikipedia and look for an alternative lifestyle paper in your city. The people who lead these groups are interested in educating folks about their community, so questions you may have about how they may help you are welcomed.

Sex is an important part of the human condition. It is as normal a function as breathing. If you have hangups about talking about it, you won't get the answers or help you need. And you certainly must talk with your partner about it. How can they aid your pursuit of happiness if they don't know what's good or bad for you?

OK, Mom, Dad, if you're reading this and you've gotten this far, you're the coolest!



Jen said...

Interesting post, Shauna. I think I went to a Fantasia party back in college. They handed out pencils with penis "eraser tops" that were covered with little colored condoms. I went to some other party in the last 10 years, but I can't remember the name of the company.
Yeah, the sex issue for MSers can be a dilemna. I guess it's a matter of being open to new ideas and products. And it shouldn't be embarrassing either (although it often is) because couples who don't have the MS concern also have issues and hindrances just from being together for so long, or age/hormone levels, or differences in drives and preferences.

The issues shouldn't be so closeted for anyone, but unfortunately they are. This post is a step towards bringing them out in the open.

Shauna said...

The ultimate goal of the sex part of a relationship is mutual satisfaction. Everyone's satisfaction level is different. That being said, if you can't talk about it, or pick up the phone and ask questions, or research it on line, maybe you shouldn't be doing it.

I know that social mores have a lot to do with our ability to discuss "taboo" subjects. Being brought up in a family where we called things by their proper name (a penis was not a wee wee) I may have an easier time discussing this topic than others.

Even doctors are not immune to social mores. Some may have their own hangups to deal with, and so some folks don't get the information they need. If you have a doc or nurse or occupational therapist who won't talk to you about how to improve your sex life as a person with MS, find one who will. I was lucky, again, with the nurses I dealt with at the MS clinic. They were helpful at the time.

Human touch alone is vital to human health and medical professionals know this. They also know that a person's mental health encompasses aspects of their physical life. And sex is part of our life.

One thing I didn't discuss, but has to be considered (and Jen, thanks for bringing up "regular" sex issues)is that if you had sexual difficulties before MS, whether it be a physical or mental component, those difficulties will just be compounded with MS. You must address all issues before any satisfaction is gained.



Shauna, I agree very interesting topic. I had not heard of (or come across) the "sleeve" idea. Intriguing.

A website I had discovered (can't remember who recommended it) features various shapes of blocks or furniture which might make sex better for some. The neat thing here is that they show a number of ways the supportive items can be used which gives good ideas for how things could be adapted at home.

Also, for some who might enjoy a bonus feature on the site. There are several videos demonstrating/explaining the uses as told from the woman's point of view.

Denver Refashionista said...

This was a very important post. It is good to think about quality of life.

Lanette said...

Okay. The Penis sleeve just made me laugh. It's a good idea! This is all good info. I think a good sexual connection is an important part of any successful relationship or marriage. I know that I feel closer and more connected to my hubby because of it.


Well, there you go! And here I thought you Canadians were a bit "shy" on such topics...LOL

Linda D. in Seattle

Shauna said...

thanks for the link...I couldn't recall the name of that thing.

It's all about quality of life.

The "sleeve" had me a little giggly, too.

Considering we spend so much of our time bundled up from the cold, anything that will heat things up is a welcome respite....


mdmhvonpa said...


Shauna said...

Glad you're back...even if you're in a little bit of


herrad said...

Great post thanks.