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anonymous on September 12, 2011

I can’t use my arms...how can I become more active in sexual positioning?

I can't use my arms to position myself because of my disability, so I feel locked into a very passive role. I hate asking my partner to make all the moves. How can I become more active in the relationship myself?

answered by
Mitchell Tepper, PhD, MPH on September 12, 2011

Thanks so much for your question. I’m sure that your experience is shared by others in your situation, and I’m happy to offer you some thoughts for your consideration that may help…

First, try rethinking what “passive” means. Many people equate passivity with not moving during sex or being on the bottom. But there are other ways to think about it. Instead, passivity could be thought of in terms removed from the physical body. In that case, being passive means being apathetic, expressionless, passionless, uninterested or lazy.

Next, ask yourself how you could be more “active” during sex, even though you can’t use your arms. Perhaps being active means that you’re enthusiastic, interested, excited, emotional and passionate. Or perhaps you can actively tell your partner exactly what you want, need or like – whether through words or moans of delight.

Discuss your discomfort with your partner. What are some ways your partner can help you feel more active during sex? Could trying a new position help? You could also try experimenting with sex toys that you can hold in your mouth or strap to your head, which could give you more power. Or, it’s possible that you’re feeling dominated by your partner in a way you don’t like. You can discuss those feelings, too.

Sex therapy might help, too. If you think your feelings of passivity have more to do with emotions or personal thoughts about sex rather than your ability to move your arms, counseling or sex therapy might help explore those emotions. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists has listings of local experts that may be able to help.

As you and your partner find new ways for you to reclaim your active role in sex, I wish you good luck and great health. Thanks for your question.

Related info:

Mitchell Tepper, PhD, MPH

Dr. Tepper directs sexual health education at SexualHealth.com. An AASECT-certified sexuality educator and counselor, his areas of expertise include sexual dysfunctions, sexuality following disability or illness, pleasure and orgasm, relationships, and military and veteran couples' counseling. Dr. Tepper was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

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