Spinal cord injuries and other impairments can leave people unable to experience an orgasm through genital stimulation. However, this needn’t mean no orgasm at all. People with these impairments can discover new sources of arousal and orgasm – for example, by developing alternate erogenous zones.
Broadcaster and journalist Mik Scarlet suffered a spinal collapse in his teens, which left him unable to get an erection. In this three-minute film, Mik draws on his own experience to explain how you can develop an erogenous zone that allows you to reach orgasm without genital stimulation. For the transcript, scroll to below the film.
Find out about the ten big myths surrounding sex and disability in this other short film starring Mik.
Warning: this film includes content of a sexual nature.
For more information:
Wheeling and Dealing by Esther Isabelle Wilder
Facingdisability.com video on orgasms after a spinal cord injury
University of Washington's discussion on women and spinal cord injury.
Mik Scarlet [speaks throughout]: Hello, I’m Mik Scarlet, and I’m going to teach you how to create orgasmic erogenous zones anywhere on your body. It sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Well, it is.
This is a process that was developed to help people with spinal injuries and with paralysis that meant they could no longer feel their genitals enjoy an active and healthy sex life. But how do you do it? The first thing you do is learn to think such sexy thoughts that you can reach orgasm without being touched. Get yourself into a position and a place where you feel safe, and warm, and nice, and then start to fantasise. Get rid of all of the guilt and the things that society teach[es] you; do not let yourself feel guilty about what you’re thinking because you are going to have to fantasise about everything – all the things that you think are sexy – no matter what. Because what you’re trying to do is think yourself to orgasm. Yes, it can be done. It’s also good fun trying.
What is most strange is that when you achieve it you will feel a very different type of orgasm. Instead of it being groin up, you feel like you orgasm head down and it flows through your body, and it’s a much bigger and more overarching sort of sensation. So it might take a little time to get used that feeling, but once you’ve done that – keep going, keep doing it, and you will find yourself enjoying yourself more, and going, “I’m just going to go and lay down for a little while and have a think.”
Then what you need to do is pinpoint your erogenous zones, the areas of your body that you like to be touched. Now, of course, for some people that have very high breaks in their spine or have difficulty moving their hands, this is quite difficult. But for the majority of people, you can just touch your body and you find the bits that you like to be touched. Then you combine the two: so, for instance, you like having your ear touched – ‘Oh, that feels really nice, thanks’ – so then you go, “Right, I’m going to think sexy thoughts, bring myself to this thought-based orgasm,” while having the bits that you like touched being touched. And you will find that you combine the two and it locates an orgasmic point on your body, and thus you’ve created an orgasmic zone that isn’t in your genitals.
Now, for people who have injuries or disabilities that mean they can’t move, it is tricky. But you will find if you continuously enjoy this sort of ‘thought masturbation’, shall we say, that when you do meet someone it’s very easy to change that into an orgasmic zone. And it’s something that you can do together; it’s an enjoyable experience. But for the rest of us, it just means that you can do it on your own, and then introduce it into sex later on.
It’s now used on a global scale to assist people with spinal injuries to have a fulfilling and happy sex life. But I think it could be used by an even wider population – it will help all people have an ability to (let’s face it) have sex in public without anyone knowing. We’ll probably cut that bit, won’t we? [Laughs]