Learning about sexuality 145
Feeling Pleasure from Sex
It is natural for a woman to want to share sexual pleasure with her partner.
But sometimes a woman may not feel pleasure from sex. There can be many reasons
for this. If her partner is a man, he may not realize that a woman’s body responds
differently to sexual touch than a man’s body does. The woman may have been
taught that women should enjoy sex less than men, or that she should not tell her
partner what she likes, whether her partner is a man or a woman.
A woman’s disability may make it
harder for her to feel pleasure. She may
need to find different ways to have sex
that feel good—especially if she has
only recently become disabled. Just
as she takes care of her daily personal
hygiene in ways that work for her
disability, she can also be sexual in
ways that work for her disability to bring
A woman can have sex with a man, a
woman, or with herself.
How the body responds to sexual pleasure
Both women and men feel sexual desire, but their bodies respond differently to sexual
thoughts and touch. When men and women have sexual thoughts or are touched in a
sexual way, they feel excited. More thought and touch make the body more excited.
It is easy to see sexual excitement in a man, because his penis gets hard.
The woman’s body also gets excited, but it is harder to see. The clitoris gets hard
and may swell, and the labia and walls of the vagina become sensitive to touch.
The vagina becomes wet with a clear, slippery fluid. Her nipples too may swell and
If sexual touch and thought continue, sexual tension builds up until she reaches
her peak of pleasure and has an orgasm (climax). When orgasm happens, the
energy and tension is released throughout the body, especially in the vagina.
Generally, after orgasm a woman feels relaxed and full of pleasure.
When a man reaches his peak of pleasure, his penis releases semen, a fluid
containing sperm (ejaculation). After orgasm, his body relaxes and his penis
becomes soft again.
Touching the clitoris is the most common way a woman reaches orgasm. It
may also happen from rubbing inside her vagina, with a penis or with fingers. Her
breasts and anus may also be sensitive to touch. It often takes longer for a woman
to reach orgasm than a man.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007