How I Do It: A married woman on what it's like to have sex when you're disabled

Having sex with a disability is a topic that carries a lot of stigma, often due to a lack of education and awareness among able-bodied people.

To lift the lid on coping with disability in the bedroom, in this week’s How I Do It, our weekly sex and love diary series, we hear first-hand from a married woman who has multiple sclerosis (MS).

Libby*, 55 married her husband Adam* when she was just 19 years old, and the pair have been together ever since. They have two grown children (who no longer live at home, but visit frequently) and two dogs.

Here, Libby reveals what it’s like to have sex with MS, how her illness has impacted the couple’s marriage (including two-near divorces) and why it sometimes makes her hate her body.


Today is a day off for both me and Adam, and we revisit old times complete with morning hair and morning breath. A really wonderful start to the day!

Sex usually takes a bit of planning but it’s more special that way, an event I think about and look forward to, put on makeup and dress up for.

My husband is the only man I have ever loved, or had sex with.

We have always enjoyed a great sex life and for a long time were a twice-a-day pair and taught our kids to ‘knock on the bedroom door before you open it, for heaven’s sake!’.

So far, so smug, you may think, and I cannot deny that I am fortunate, but it hasn’t been easy. 

We have broken each others’ hearts and have nearly divorced on two occasions over that time, but thanks to couples therapy, have managed to resolve our issues and realise that we are better together.

It doesn’t hurt that I fancy the pants off him.


Today’s the day for a bit of self-love, but it takes a lot of time and energy, so today is also the day for a nap.

When I was 26, I became disabled and was diagnosed with MS.  Over the course of seven years, it ripped through my body and our lives, leaving me with many bits that don’t work anymore, including my legs.

MS follows me everywhere, but I hate it most in the bedroom. 

I walk with two sticks, which is okay, but what do you do in bed when you can’t lift your legs to pull your lover in close, or do a sexy dance for a laugh as you undress?

Worst of all, nerve damage robbed me of my easy orgasm. It takes me ages to come now, it’s more than my poor damaged hands can manage. 

Sex toys have come a long way though, and I adore both my clitoral toy, which simulates the feeling of oral sex, and my good old rampant rabbit, depending on which bits of my nervous system are working on that day.


Today I am especially aware of the affair my husband had while I was at my worst health-wise (it’s also the cause of one of the near-divorces).

So many spouses run a mile in the face of long-term disability, and I know he struggled with it. 

Disability has altered the way I view my body. MS and menopause have shrunk my boobs and expanded my bum, but not in a way that any of the Kardashians would recognise. 

How do I switch my brain from viewing this thing that hurts, exhausts and disobeys me into something sensual and gorgeous?

It’s a mental and physical effort and I can hear the gears crunching in my head. I look in the mirror and see myself as a wonky melted candle. 

I hate myself and want to cry. Today I feel like I couldn’t use this useless ugly body of mine to give anyone pleasure.

My husband would like some loving tonight, but I’m not in the right mindset, and he’s very understanding. 

Toxicity 1: Marriage 0.


Nerve damage is a bitch, but now and again it throws up a blessing. 

It has damaged my ability to orgasm when I want to, but occasionally some glitch in a neuron makes me come in my sleep, hands-free and smiling. 

It’s a fickle gift though, as I can’t choose where or when, but after yesterday’s hate-fest the orgasm fairy has visited and I wake up this morning all glowing and sated. 

Using the knowledge of anatomy I picked up as a nurse I have been practising with my pelvic floor muscles to stimulate some of the five inches of clitoris which are hidden inside the body to see if I can replicate the process. 

It’s been a mixed bag of success but I’ve been practising hard (and had a lot of fun in the process).


‘Gotta get down on Friday’ as the song goes, but maybe not. We had planned a date night, but five days of early starts and long days means my husband doesn’t feel like having sex.

The complications of sex as you age, and particularly if you have a disability or health problem like me, means that it’s useful to explore other ways of being intimate and not necessarily viewing orgasm as a final destination. It takes the pressure off.

Just before we got married, a wise older person told me ‘good love will get you through times of no sex better than good sex will get you through times of no love’ and at 19 I found it baffling.

I was certain that Adam and I were both eternally in love and would be going at it 24/7 forever and ever. Time has taught me otherwise.

A chat down the pub, a snuggle on the sofa, holding feet in bed (our hands are usually full of books) and most of all a shared laugh all promote that feeling of deep affection.

I like this man and that’s separate from – and sometimes better than – love.


We are determined to have our date tonight and I think about it all day, getting more and more aroused. 

We both make ourselves look nice, with an effort to be more desirable to each other, and although we might not be able to manage the gymnastics we used to, the stuff we do still manages to give me a thrill. 

I find strategic placement of pillows and having a good sense of humour to be of great help.

According to my husband (and Woody Allen), sex is ‘the most fun you can have without laughing’ but I think that being able to giggle together really enhances the experience.

I defy anyone to be in the presence of a queef [the sound of air released from the vagina during/after sex] without laughing. 

I end the day in a happy sweaty heap and with serious cramp in my legs. It’s worth it.


I love Sunday, it’s my favourite day of the week.

We potter and do chores, and I get a bum-fondle while unloading the dishwasher.  I may be more Kim K than I thought, even in my housework togs. 

A brief spat about gardening (I hate holding the bin bag but can’t manage the ladder) is resolved and my husband gives our dogs a long walk while I sit enjoying the bird song, reading a book and waiting for their return. 

We share a bottle of wine, watch a good film on TV and have an early night. 

I’m in my happy place, snuggled up with my husband and our snoring dogs in our double bed. And if that sounds smug, I think we deserve it.

Names have been changed.*

How I Do It

In’s How I Do It you get a sneak peek into a week of a person’s sex and love life – from vanilla love-making to fetishes, threesomes and polyamorous relationships, they reveal it all.

Fancy taking part yourself? Email [email protected] for more information.

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