Muscular dystrophy and related conditions cause muscles to waste and weaken. More than 70,000 people in the UK are affected.

Sex and disability


Lewis aged 23 says that giving up is never an optionLewis Rose is 23 years old and has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. With a strong head and an artistic mind, he has some really inspiring and firm views on the relationship between sex and disability, and the taboo that surrounds it.

Sex is a very natural occurrence, and in the sexually rich environment, we now live in, sex is not hidden, it's totally at the forefront of our daily lives, mainly through the media and consumerist world, as we all know, ‘sex sells’…
As a sufferer of Duchene I’ve grown to accept the limitations caused by the disorder, however in terms of learning and socialising I’ve never let it get in the way. 
I attended mainstream school, where I was effectively integrated, eventually achieving 10 GCSEs and 3 A-levels. My favoured subject was always Art and this interest has continued. I feel attending mainstream school was always the right choice as it helped me develop both academically and socially. I then went on to study Art at University, completing a Foundation course and then graduating with a BA Honours in Visual Arts at Birmingham City University.
My art itself has taken an interesting journey through a transition from traditional techniques when I was younger and more able, to a sole reliance on digital techniques. During the foundation course I became interested in digital photography which led me to discover further possibilities offered to me using a computer. 
Art is very important to me and above all it gives me a purpose and the motivation to get up in the morning; this is what we all need in life. Having a passion or hobby really helps to keep your mind active and helps to divert some of the attention away from other things. I know if I didn’t have my art, I would spend too much time dwelling. It’s easy with Duchenne to sometimes feel like giving up but giving up is never an option.

Lewis with his parents on holiday in FlorenceFrom my experiences it still seems as many people still view the disabled as asexual, or at least people that don’t have similar needs. Obviously disabled people have different needs in so much that they need help to carry out tasks able-bodied people can perform easily; however I’m referring to the ‘core’ needs, one of which includes sexual needs.

For an able-bodied person dealing with sexual needs is a lot less problematic as it is something that can be done in their own privacy without others having to be involved, unless of course it is their partner, wife, girl/boyfriend, which ever the case may be.

However for a disabled individual that is totally reliant upon a carer due to the severity of their disability, being able to have sex or masturbate is very difficult and isn’t something that can be taken for granted.

You can read all about Lewis’s life on his website

Meet more people living with muscle disease on our forum

Tags: Interviews

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Comments (6)

  • Anonymous commenter replied on Tue 30 Nov 2010 at 05:02PM:

    Sex has and will be a part of my life. I have Beckers MD. I also have a wounder full girlfriend for ten we love each other and enjoy each others bodies. We are also great full for one muscle that still works just fine. Bill

  • Victoria replied on Wed 05 Jan 2011 at 05:03PM:

    Why the warning above this very well written article? There was nothing remotely disturbing in this article and to have a warning because it's about disabled people and their sexual needs is extremely patronising.

  • Jonay replied on Sun 18 Dec 2011 at 04:36PM:

    Thanks for the insgiht. It brings light into the dark!

  • Anonymous commenter replied on Mon 02 Jul 2012 at 12:57AM:

    I like a guy who has this same condition, but am not sure if he can have sex, and I'm not really sure how to bring it up bc he doesn't even know I like him. We met at a center for people with disabilities as I have fibromyagia and psoriatic arthritis that causes me to be in chronic pain. Was wondering if his condition physically affects him sexually or if hell be able to have normal functioning.

  • caitlin replied on Tue 02 Apr 2013 at 11:44AM:

    My partner and I both have MD. But it doesn't stop us from having sex. It may be difficult, but it is possible.

  • Bibiana replied on Tue 12 Nov 2013 at 02:54PM:

    This was a very sensitive, well-written article that had absolutely nothing offensive in it. Disabled people have the same needs for sex and intimacy as anyone else. And why people find this taboo is beyond me.

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