Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Disability and Your Libido

People with physical or intellectual disabilities in our society are often regarded as non-sexual adults. Sex is very much associated with youth and physical attractiveness and when it is not, is often seen as “unseemly”.

If sex and disability are discussed, it is very much in terms of capacity, technique and fertility – in particular, male capacity and technique and female fertility – with no reference to sexual feelings. This approach ignores other aspects of sexuality, such as touching, affection and emotions.

Disabled people not non-sexual

If we accept that sexual expression is a natural and important part of human life, then perceptions that deny sexuality for disabled people deny basic right of expression. The perception of people with disabilities as non-sexual can present a barrier to safe sex education, both for workers who may be influenced by these views and for disabled people themselves in terms of gaining access to information and acceptance as sexual beings.

For paraplegic and quadriplegic people, loss of sexual function does not mean a corresponding loss of sexuality. Sexual function may be impaired but can, like other functions, be increased, although fertility is usually lost for men.

After spinal cord injury the spinal centre for sexual function is generally intact; it is the communication from the brain to the spinal centre that is usually disrupted. Unless some sensation in the area of the sexual organs remains, the usual sensation of orgasm is lost, but phantom orgasm elsewhere in the body may be experienced. However, the physical and emotional aspects of sexuality, despite the physical loss of function, continue to be just as important for disabled people as for non–disabled people.

In addition, opportunities for sexual exploration among disabled people, particularly the young, are very limited. There is often a lack of privacy and they are much more likely than other young people to receive a negative reaction from an adult if discovered. The general reduction in life choices also has an impact on self – esteem which in turn affects sexuality.

It is important for health care professionals, particularly those involved in education programs with disability workers or disabled people, to understand community attitudes towards disability and sexuality and the impact of these views upon disabled people themselves.

Let’s not sexually discriminate.

Depression and Your Libido

The "new generation" of antidepressants, of which Prozac is one, have helped return millions of people worldwide suffering from depression (as well as other serious conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder and eating disorders) to mental health. One of the chief selling points of these drugs has been their negligible side-effects compared with earlier antidepressants.

 However, there is one common side-effect that is often a serious cause of concern: sexual dysfunction.

At least 30%-60% of the men and women who take one of the popular newer antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft, experience some degree of sexual dysfunction.

 Drug-related sex problems may include erection and ejaculation impairment in men, loss of lubrication in women, and, in both sexes, decreased or lost libido and delayed or blocked orgasm.

Some do get it up when they are down
For many people, the benefits of having their depression lifted far outweigh any possible sexual problems. There is also the argument that depression itself usually severely dampens libido. However, there is no question that healthy sexual function is an important component of quality of life for many people.

 Often, as people experience their depression starting to ease, they feel eager to return to normal life - and that includes normal sexual behaviour.

Most people don't need to take antidepressants for their entire lives: once they stop taking the drugs, their sexual functioning returns to normal. Thus sexual dysfunction may not be a serious issue for people receiving short-term antidepressant treatment. But many chronically depressed people require treatment for many months or years.

For some, sexual side-effects can be a serious problem that leads them to stop taking the drugs, often without telling their doctors. This may result in relapse of the depression, which can be very serious.

What can you do?

There are numerous treatment options if your medication is causing sexual dysfunction. These options have not been successful in treating antidepressant-induced sexual problems in everybody, but usually a helpful alternative can be found.

Report any worrisome changes in sexual functioning to your doctor so that together you can seek a way to resolve the problem. Don't terminate your medication without a health professional's supervision and approval - this could lead to a relapse into depression.

Don't be shy to seek help.

Be inspired by a true story (Married to a Devil) on disability and how a strong woman conquered it all by determination. Married to a Devil can be found on  http://chipmunkapublishing.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2172

or get it on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Married-To-A-Devil-ebook/dp/B0087PTP4M

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