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Debunking the myths of sex after disability Yellowknife NT

If you're one of the 4.4 million Canadians suffering with a physical or mental disability, you know that sexual practices can be taboo to talk about. However, it is important that you discuss these issues with your doctor and, most importantly, your partner.

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Debunking the myths of sex after disability

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(NC)-One in seven Canadians - or 4.4 million people- now has a disability. For many Canadians living with a disability the topic of sexuality is tense and sometimes taboo.

"Disability or illness can potentially impact any aspect of a person's sexuality," says Dr. Abraham Snaiderman, director of the neuropsychiatry clinic at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Canada's largest provider of adult rehabilitation services. "People with a disability may wonder whether they can have children, if their partners will stay with them, if anyone will find them sexually desirable, or if they will ever enjoy sex again."

To make matters worse, when one half of a couple becomes disabled, a family member often is torn between competing roles as caregiver and sexual partner.

"One of the keys to regaining a healthy sexual life with your partner is to create boundaries. It's okay to establish caregiving roles that are separate from sexual roles so that when it's time to be sexual, the roles can completely switch," adds Dr. Snaiderman.

The topic of sexuality is seen as an extra burden for people living with a disability who are dealing with serious physical and emotional issues, and often, have to deal with society's misconceptions about them.

"The biggest myth about sex and disability is the idea that people with disabilities are asexual, that somehow when you get a disability your sexuality disappears, that you're not desirable and no one would want you as a partner," adds Dr. Snaiderman. "People also assume that you probably don't even feel desire."

Dr. Snaiderman encourages people with disabilities to move beyond the myths.

"Speak up. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to talk to your doctor or caregiver about any issues related to your sexuality," recommends Dr. Snaiderman. "Sex is normal. It's a normal part of humanity. It's something that you have the right to experience. Don't be shy. Talk about it."

Resource information on sex and disability is available online at www.torontorehab.com.

- News Canada