is some research on sexuality and disability, much of it is limited
to sexual dysfunction, said Mona.
In addition, conversations about sex aren’t happening
enough between patients and health professionals, said Colleen
Clemency Cordes, PhD, of Arizona State University. “
Health-care providers don’t want to bring [sex] up because they don’t
feel like they have the skills necessary to handle this. Patients
tend to not bring it up because they are worried how their
providers are going to respond, and mental health providers
don’t bring it up because they feel like they don’t know enough
about the medical aspects of disabilities,” she said.
To help patients, researchers need to shift their attention
from sexual dysfunction to “sex positive” research, and
providers need to learn how to assess their patients’ sexual
health. They also need to offer guidance on strategies that can
help patients have active, satisfying sex lives, said Cordes.
Overall, patients with disabilities also have to be well versed
in all aspects of their care, said Marsha Saxton, PhD, who directs
research and training at the World Institute on Disability. To
help, the institute has developed “Map to Access,” an online
training curriculum to help patients with disabilities advocate
for their health needs. The website ( www.proyectovision.net/
map) includes downloadable fact sheets in English and Spanish
that patients can give their health professionals on such topics
as the reproductive health needs of women with physical
disabilities, how to buy adjustable exam tables and working
effectively with people who are blind or have hearing loss, said
• Through the Looking Glass (a national
center providing services and other resources to
parents with a disability) http://lookingglass.org
• Breast Health Access for Women with
• The Center for Research on Women with
• U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of
Disability Employment Policy www.dol.gov/
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