You can have sex in a wheelchair while suffering from

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sexual function. You can have sex in a wheelchair, while suffering from arthritis, or after heart sur- gery. Although there may be difficulties due to physical limitations, the individual’s ad- justment to the disability, or the availability of partners, individuals with disabilities have the same sexual needs and feelings as anyone else. In any person, able or disabled, a healthy attitude is the most important factor in achieving a healthy sex life. If a disability occurs early in life it may affect socialization; a smaller social circle limits the opportunity for sexual learning and the availability of sexual partners. A con- dition can cause direct or indirect effects on sexual functioning. A direct effect is any difference in function of your genitals or another body system that specifically affects sexual response. For example, erectile dysfunction can be a direct effect of prostate cancer. An indirect effect can be symptoms such as pain or fatigue caused by the condi- Despite his spinal cord injury, Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana maintain a sexual relationship.
CHAPTER 3 Sexual Arousal and Response 98 tion that diminishes your ability for and/or interest in sexual activities. For example, those suffering from severe arthritis may have such extreme discomfort that sexual ac- tivity becomes undesirable. Medical treatments can interfere with sexual responses, as can the psychological effects of being sick, injured, or disabled. A belief that you are less attractive or less sexually desirable because of your condition can reduce your willingness to pursue sexual relationships. Your partners’ reactions also have an impact. For example, a sex- ual partner may be afraid that sexual activity will hurt you or worsen your condition. As indicated above, a positive attitude on the part of the disabled person and his or her partner can make all of the difference in the expression of their sexuality. Most female primates undergo an 1 ______________ cycle that includes a period of sexual receptivity followed by ovulation. However, human females are capable of being continuously receptive to and available for sexual activity independent of ovulation. While the physical re- sponses to sexual arousal vary with the individual, the most obvious physical signs of sexual arousal are vaginal 2 ______________ for females and penile 3 ______________ for males. The brain may be the most important human sexual organ since it processes emotions, thoughts, fantasies, and desires. Some typical correlates of sexual excitement are increases in heartbeat, blood to the genitals, 4 ______________ (or breathing), and skin sensitivity. In addition, the body may experience 5 ______________ (or muscle tension) and engorgement of blood in the genitals. All five human senses may contribute to sexual arousal. For example, touch or tactile stimulation and smell or olfactory stimulation can increase sexual arousal.

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