“My fiancè’ and I were in a horrific carcrash three years ago. He was driving too fast and lost control. He had minorinjuries but I became a paraplegic as a result. While I was in rehab he visitedme and said he wanted to break the engagement as my present status would notallow him to live his lifestyle and I would not be able to ‘keep up’ in achair. I have many friends but none seem interested in a relationship with me.Is it my fate to be single for the rest of my life because I am disabled?

Your case as sad and is unfortunately quitecommon when females become spinal cord injured. We have a patriarchal system ofmale dominance to thank for that. Most men seem to think that being seen in arelationship with a partner with a disability reflects negatively on theirpublic image. In a few cases long-standing, healthy relationships have survivedand even improved after spinal cord injury.

You need to remember that you still havethe same intellect, mind, personality, looks and body (to a large extent) asyou had prior to your injury. The challenge is to convince a would-be suitor ofthis and that, with minor adjustments to accommodate your lack of sensation andmobility, you can engage in a perfectly normal and healthy relationship andeven fall pregnant should you so wish.

Develop a survivor attitude. This startsfrom within, by accepting your disability and saying to yourself, “Hey! I amstill attractive and fun to be with!” and then projecting that attitude out tothe world around you via your behavior.

People with a disability often doubt theirability to have an active and exciting sexual relationship. The only way to laythis doubt to rest is by re-discovering your sexuality and discovering whatworks for you.

Start the process by touching yourself toestablish if you still have sensation on your clitoris and the opening of yourvagina. If sensation is absent or severely reduced, find out if you havesensation at the G-Spot (located one finger length into the vaginal passage onthe wall closest to your tummy). You will probably also find that directstimulation of the opening of the cervix (located at the extreme far end of thevaginal passage) will have become pleasing. This is common in females withspinal cord injury. Recent research also indicates that orgasmic messaging cantake place via the vagus nerve as it is not usually affected when spinal cordinjury occurs.

When you realise that you can still respondsensually and physically to stimulation it provides a powerful step forward towardindependence and improved self-esteem.

Once you have found areas that respond tostimulation you can start your journey of rediscovery and sexual confidence throughmasturbation. Adult stores have wide ranges of well-designed and aestheticallypleasing vibrators and stimulators to assist with this process.

Positions for intercourse have been coveredin previous articles in this magazine but you will discover that limited mobilityneed not impact hugely if you and your partner are willing to experiment anduse your imagination.

The bottom line however is that because ofall the myths and lack of information about spinal cord injury that stillexists in the general public the onus is yours to convince them otherwise. Thisis achieved by projecting your personality with confidence and showing that youare perfectly normal despite your disability. Offer information about yourdisability to persons who matter to you.

I wish you good fortune in your endeavorand confirm that a solitary life style need not be your fate when you areliving with a spinal cord injury.