The sex toy industry is huge, but there’s no getting away from the fact that most products assume the user is able-bodied.
However, there is also a growing market for products that are easier to use – and some that are specifically designed for those who have difficulty using ‘standard’ toys.
Electro-stimulation is a thing and we tried it
I discovered the Pulse from Hot Octopuss a while ago, in my guise as a sex toy reviewer.
Marketed as a ‘guybrator’, it wraps around the penis and – if you buy the Duo version – also has an external vibrator so that a partner can join in.
Rather than testing it myself, I passed it on to someone who could make more use of its interesting abilities.
Jane was unable to have penetrative sex following surgery, and was impressed by what the Pulse could do.
My partner was able to use it quite easily as a masturbatory tool and there’s a remote for the speeds, which I had full control of.
Using it as a couple took some getting used to – you have to make sure it’s in the right place and it needs quite a lot of lube.
But once you get into the rhythm, it works well, and I eventually got so worked up that I dropped the remote.
The Pulse helped us achieve the first simultaneous orgasm we’ve had for a very long time.
Dan discovered the Pulse helped him when medication couldn’t.
I’ve had Multiple Sclerosis for 15 years and been pretty much impotent for the last five. Not just erectile dysfunction but also loss of sensitivity.
Viagra works, but it feels like I’m doing it with someone else’s tackle.
I did some research and came across (sorry!) the Pulse III Duo, which unlike usual male masturbators, works without the need for a full or even partial erection.
It has a coin sized pad, which sits under the penis and offers a range of pulse patterns.
And it works. I had forgotten just how damn good that release was, and all the wonderful chemical and psychological changes that go with it. It really has given me back the physical pleasure of sex.
Hot Octopuss also produce the Queen Bee – not only one of the oddest looking sex toys I’ve ever laid my hands on (which is saying something), but also one of the most unique.
Its simple design means that it is easy to hold and use by those with limited dexterity.
The Chronic Sex blog – tagline ‘Because sexuality doesn’t depend on ability’ – called it ‘versatile, different and sleek’ and suggested that it could work ‘regardless of gender’, as a lightweight alternative to a wand massager.
Retailers are getting wise to this potential gap in the adult toy market.
Francesca Cross was inspired to launch her online store The Pleasure Garden after realising how many people were missing out.
She told Metro.co.uk:
In 2014, I started working for a disability charity and the clear message that came across was that disabled people just want to be able to use the same shops etc as everyone else, rather than specialist ‘other’ resources.
I also began to get interested in the politics of sexuality and wanted to find out more about sex and disability.
I couldn’t find any sex shops in the UK that were explicitly inclusive of disabled people, so I decided I wanted to do something about it – and that’s how The Pleasure Garden started.
I want to create a space where everyone – regardless of gender, sexuality or disability – is able to access the products and information they need to help them achieve a fulfilling sex life. Sex and pleasure are a massively important part of our lives and having a disability should not exclude you from that.
It’s important to acknowledge that disabled people want to – and do – have sex, buy sex toys, are kinky, are gay and all the other various shades of sex and sexuality there are, just like non-disabled people.
It’s important not to ‘other’ disabled people, which is why I wanted to make sure that the shop was as inclusive as possible, as opposed to creating something specifically for disabled people.
Pleasure is for everybody and every body.
There are some practical ways of making life easier when you have mobility issues.
Liberator have long sold their wedge cushions to a market eager to take advantage of comfortable positioning for those intimate moments.
Or if you have the space – and strong door frames – perhaps a sex swing could be useful?
They are generally of pretty decent quality these days – this Fetish Fantasy swing from Simply Pleasure can hold up to 350lb in weight and enables extra mobility.
Tabitha Rayne describes herself as a ‘randy romance writer’.
She invented the award-winning Ruby Glow after looking for something to keep her entertained while writing erotica – it was only later that she realised how useful it might be for those with limited mobility.
She told Metro.co.uk:
I initially designed the Ruby Glow simply as a way for me to get off while writing sex scenes without disturbing the creative flow.
I then developed it further because I realised that this sort of non-penetrative, hands-free device might enable other women to achieve orgasm.
Because the two vibrating pads are held in place by your own body, you can use your weight to grind against the pads as hard as you like without having to use your fingers.
It was Rayne’s own experiences that further shaped the toy.
A few years ago I suffered a severe bout of viral arthritis. It was agony and left me weak throughout my body, but particularly in the wrists. It really opened my eyes to how people with reduced mobility or chronic pain must find so many tasks impossible.
For many months, I could barely pull down my underwear, let alone take care of my own orgasms. It was simply too painful to apply the right amount of pressure, and the vibrations from clitoral massagers made them really hard to hold in place. It was a frustrating time – physically, emotionally and sexually.
When I thought back to those days, I realised that the Ruby Glow would have been a fantastic vibrator for me then. My symptoms improved over time but the experience has given me a determination to look at sex toy design and how they can be more accessible, inclusive and easy to use for all.
Because the Ruby Glow is basically two vibrating humps that you slip between your legs while sitting there is no penetration, only pressure. Which means you can even use it while wearing clothes and during your period.
I just wish I’d invented the bloody thing a couple of years earlier.
So you see, whatever your physical limitations, the advice and equipment is almost certainly there to help. Everybody deserves the sex life they desire.
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