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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active eight year old (Robby) and an infant (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Okay, I'm Talking About Sex

I would like to provide a disclaimer for the readers of this particular blog post. This post deals with a sensitive issue. I am writing about sex after an amputation. I want to be honest without being graphic.

After much debate and a discussion with Scott, I have decided that this needs to be openly addressed. I have received numerous emails from individuals who are struggling with the issue after their amputation. Many others are fearful of how their upcoming amputation may affect their sex life.

I am certainly no expert on the subject. I can, however, speak frankly about my experiences. Sometimes, merely validating fears can go a long way towards eliminating them. I thought I was the only amputee worried about intimacy. It wasn't until I started reaching out to help other "new"amputees that I discovered my fears about sex were universal for the amputee and his or her partner(s).

I was worried about how my amputation was going to impact my sex life before my amputation. Because it is a sensitive and personal issue, I did not feel comfortable broaching the topic with amputee mentors. I was left to deal with my fears and emotions on my own, which probably made my adjustment more difficult.

Before my amputation I assumed that I would wear my prosthetic during intercourse. I figured that I would feel more comfortable wearing the leg. I never envisioned that I would want to be intimate without a foot. I quickly changed my mind after I received my prosthetic and discovered how awkward and heavy the device is, especially when I am lying down.

It took nearly six months until I was "ready" after my amputation. This extended time was due to the infection in my stump but, in retrospect, was also because I was feeling ugly. I simply wasn't eager to be seen. For partners of the amputee, patience is imperative!

After my amputation it was difficult for me to look at my body. I assumed that it was difficult for Scott to look at me as well, but I have since learned otherwise. He loved me unconditionally and wasn't "turned off" because I happened to be missing a foot. The problem was, I turned myself off.

I didn't feel attractive and any sense of sensuality seemed to have evaporated. It took months before I could look in a mirror without tearing up. Scott knew that the lights were going to be off, and that any touching below my knee was NOT going to happen. I didn't want anything to remind me that I was now an amputee.

No, I didn't wear my prosthetic. I did wear my liner. I worried that my sensitive stump would get bumped somehow. The liner just made me feel more comfortable and safer. I suppose I felt more comfortable keeping my residual limb covered. We never discussed removing the liner. It was never an issue.

As my stump healed and my self-esteem recovered, I no longer needed to keep my stump covered. It was a natural and slow progression. I don't need to wear the liner anymore. If the liner is on, it is because of the spontaneity of the act versus my desire to keep my stump concealed.

People are often curious about how an amputee has sex. All I can say is that I have learned that a foot is not necessary for intercourse. An active and adventurous sex life after an amputation is possible, but every position may not be feasible. For example, sex in the shower has been completely eliminated. I have enough trouble balancing to wash my hair!

Keeping an open dialogue is paramount. I realized that it was up to me to let Scott know when I was feeling discomfort. He certainly doesn't want to hurt me. He was equally as nervous about causing me pain.

I have learned that laughter can go a long way to ease a tense situation. Scott and I laugh a lot, including when we are being intimate. After an amputation, some positions just don't "work" anymore. However our inability to recreate positions from our youthful escapades is probably due to our increasing age and decreasing flexibility as much as it is because of my amputation!

You really won't know until you try. Sometimes my stump hurts or gets pinched, so we simply change position. We have a lot of pillows to provide extra padding for my residual limb (and to reduce friction abrasions). And when a specific position doesn't work, instead of getting upset or frustrated, we just laugh it off.

Patience, love and open communication are the tools we needed to rebuild our sex life after my amputation. Just as my body changed for me, it has also changed for Scott. He admits that some positions feel "different." Because of my amputation, we laugh a lot more, and we talk more. Both of these are good things.

A brief note: My Mom, a retired English teacher, reads my blogs before they publish to fix my punctuation etc.. I was worried that she would feel uncomfortable reading a blog about such an intimate topic. Her reaction when I voiced my concerns? "Peggy, it may have been a long time ago, but I have performed the act. And I am constantly getting screwed." Love ya Mom!

10 comments:

  1. You are very brave to write about this. I also felt/feel sort of unwhole, not attractive, etc. I can hardly look at myself at times. Like you I am lucky to have a wonderful, loving, and sweet husband. A partner who is also a friend (not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend for a husband/lover) is turning out to be the cure for many many things in life.

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  2. Hi, nice post. I came through this while googling about sex and prosthesis.
    My concern: I "might" get going around with someone with two prosthetic legs. Considering I thought I would have an awesome sex life, I am feeling too awkward to think about this. I haven't voiced my concerns to him, but am too scared to hurt his ego if I do. Does it affect sex life? Will he be able to do things like an ordinary man? How does it feel to have nothing below knee while having sex? Please help me. Sorry, if it offends you or anyone out there, am just too laymanly concerned. I do not want to be repelled by the sight and say "NO" or feel sorry at that time.

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  3. Anonymous--
    It shouldn't affect his abilities to perform sexually (assuming that the cause of his amputation didn't affect the genitals etc.) Some positions might be different, or adapted, but I'm sure he will take the lead. Keep a sense of humor and adventure. Have you seen his limbs yet? If you haven't seen the residual limb before? If not then you might want to prepare yourself for scars etc.. Maybe offer a nice massage first to desensitize yourself first? Feel free to contact me via email if you have more specific questions... amputeemommy@gmail.com

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  4. Thanks a lot...no I haven't seen his limbs yet. Since he was a premature baby, he was born with no limbs below knee. About genitals, I need to question him , and hope it won't be an embarrassing one :) I am so glad to hear this btw. I will get in touch if more doubts :) Thanks once again!

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  5. My husband is a above the knee amptee and paralyzed on one side. We have issues every now and then but satifaction is always met. Openess love communication sensitivity all play a big role but it all works out in the end.
    Knowing your partner very well helps. The beauty is the person not their body.

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  6. Thank you so much for posting this. I came across this googling sex with an amputee. I, myself, am a recent above the knee amputee and have had many doubts about performing with my partner intimately. He reassured me that we would take it slow & we did. I just feel a whole lot better knowing there are other people that are in a similar situation as me. Unfortunately, where I am from, there is not one amputee support group. Thanks again for posting. :)

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  7. Hi Peggy.
    Thank you for your post. I hope this will help my mother. She is 66 healthy but got cancer and had to have a full leg amputation. My father worries about how they will be able to have a healthy sex life again. I believe its possible but I worry more about how my mother will feel. She's such a beautiful strong woman.. I want to help them both as much as I can.

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  8. Hello :) I am dating/going to marry (he doesn't know it yet HAHA) a below knee amputee, been together a little under a year. I initially wasn't worried, still not worried about our sex life. We haven't actually "done the deed" but that's another story. He is however, the most wonderful and amazing man I have ever known... to the point I forget about the BKA.
    -The first time I saw his stump, I asked if I could see it, and just gently asked questions about his pain and how it feels, etc. You have to feel him out to know when would be a good time to talk... Although when you're making-out, they're always distracted wink wink. Good Luck, and love the other person regardless. They ARE still a whole, NORMAL person; they happen to have a limb missing.

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  9. Hi!Thank you for this wonderful post Peggy. I am concerned because I'm a 30 year old quadrilateral amputee and I am afraid of my sexuality. That's great for alot of you because you belong to a committed relationship. I'm single and I am worried about getting back my sex life as well as when I start dating when and how do I tell the guy I am an amputee x4 if he doesn't already know. I'm afraid that I will never meet someone who will except me. Please help.

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  10. I am so very glad for you in that you have a very supportive man in your life! The two of you can explore a new option or style of intimacy as well as a continuation of the original! Unfortunately in my case my wife of 21 years wasn't so accepting. She left after my first below the knee amputation. Oh she waited for three weeks till I came home but 45 minutes later she tells me that she takes care of sick people all day at work and didn't want to come home to it. Then 6 months later I lost the other leg. I won't tell you what she did then, let's just say it was a lot worse. Well now I am healed and am even training to compete in a triathlon. The problem I face now is women are so shallow that they are freaked out by the legs and don't want to get involved. They say I am very attractive and the sweetest thing but can't deal with my situation! If you don't think that is an ego buster!!!

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