Dori Tempio, a person with a physical disability, has partnered with Able South Carolina to discuss sexual and reproductive health concerning people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities have the same sexual and reproductive health needs of others, but often face barriers to information and services.”
Dori states that people with disabilities should be able to speak openly with medical providers on issues regarding sexual activity without the fear of discrimination or availability of options. Dori provides some tips for healthcare providers and patients when it comes to talking about sex.
Tips For Providers
- Speak directly to the patient when asking sexual information and discussing contraceptives.
- Leave your own personal opinions and/or those of family members out of decisions when explaining options.
- The same treatment options should be provided for patients with and without disabilities.
- You should feel comfortable discussing alternative options patients to engage in sexual activity.
- Never recommend terminating a pregnancy based solely on disability.
- Never assume that people with disabilities will not engage in sexual activity.
Tips For Patients
Dori also provides the following tips for patients with disabilities when discussing sexual health with a doctor:
- Acknowledge your discomfort. A good way to start off this topic is with a question. “It’s not the most comfortable topic, but can we talk about sex for a minute?”
- Approach the topic from a health perspective. “I’m concerned about thyroid problems because my interest in sex has dwindled.”
- Be prepared. Write your questions down beforehand.
- Understand your body and your medical needs, so you can explain what you are looking for in terms of contraception or fertility.
“It’s okay to talk about sex. Patients should have the confidence to discuss their wants and needs with medical providers. Providers should encourage their patients to speak up when they have questions or need resources."
Planning A Successful Doctor’s Visit
- If you require accommodations, be sure to request those when scheduling your doctor’s visit. An example of a accommodation is a interpreter, assistance with filling out paperwork or an adjustable exam table.
- Ask questions if you do not understand. Write down your own questions beforehand.
- You are the patient. Unless you choose otherwise, do not let others speak for you.
- If you do not understand a procedure, ask your doctor to draw you a picture or use a model for clarification.
- Take notes in whatever way works best for you. Request brochures, audio recordings, or visuals.
- Let providers know if you have questions or require assistance with medication.
- Be Proactive about your health. You have the right to choose a medical provider, and how you receive treatment.
“People with disabilities are sexual beings and deserve access to information and resources to make good choices about their sexual and reproductive health.”
Check out the video for more detailed information.
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