Relationships Age 16+
SMA doesn’t affect any wishes you may have in due course for a relationship.
Page last reviewed / updated: March 2021
Next review due: March 2022
It’s not always easy to meet new people which makes internet dating sites a popular option. If you’re thinking of this, these general guidelines might be helpful:
- Is the website a member of the Online Dating Association (ODA)? If they are then they'll have to follow a code of practice, but it’s still important to be careful.
- When you set up your profile don’t give out too much information. For example, don’t give your surname or any other identifying information such as where you live, study or work or your contact details.
- Take things slowly and only share more information if and when you feel comfortable to do so. Don’t share pictures or information that you wouldn’t want shared widely or that could give someone a hold over you.
- If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable or tries to pressurise you into giving them your personal or financial information, stop communicating with them, and tell the dating provider. No one should be asking you for money when you've only just met.
- Make sure your internet security is up-to-date and don’t open attachments from people you've only just met.
- Get to know people on the site first before you arrange to contact them outside of the dating site.
- If, after getting to know someone, you do arrange to meet them in person, follow good safety advice.
For more information on safe online dating please see the Get Safe Online website: www.getsafeonline.org/social-networking/online-dating/
You can use the same internet dating websites as anyone else. In addition, there are some that are more specifically for disabled people:
A Sexual Relationship
Your SMA may make it more challenging to find positions which are comfortable. You may need to experiment with this and with different ways to enjoy a sexual relationship.
Contact for Families with Disabled Children - ‘Growing up, sex and relationships: a booklet for young disabled people’: https://contact.org.uk/media/379646/growing_up_young_people.pdf
Disability Horizons - founded by two disabled guys in 2011, publishes articles on a wide variety of topics, all to support the aim of a world where disabled people live exactly as they choose. They have more disability specific information on:
- relationships and sex: www.disabilityhorizons.com/category/relationships-and-sex/
- sex aids: www.disabilityhorizons.com/2014/07/disability-and-sex-lets-be-frank-about-sex-toys/
Enhance the UK - a user-led charity that offers disability awareness training as well as advice and information on sex and disability: www.enhancetheuk.org/
Sex with a Difference - provides sex information for disabled people, carers and professionals: www.swaddorset.org/
Spokz – has been recommended to SMA UK for sex aids:
www.spokz.co.uk/ (search sex aid products)
The Outsiders Trust – a peer support and dating club, offers information and advice on overcoming the possible physical difficulties of having sex when you have a disability. They also have an online club for people aged over 16 years and a sex and disability helpline:
Phone: 07872 681 982 or visit: www.outsiders.org.uk/
The following organisations have also been recommended to SMA UK:
Safer sex is about using contraception if you don’t want to get pregnant and to avoid the chance of getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) - find out more in the section below.
A GP or family planning clinic will give young people over 16 years of age confidential advice, if you're under 16 years of age the advice may not be confidential. To help you choose the best contraceptive for you, they’ll need to ask you how your SMA affects you, about any medication you take and any allergies you have, such as to latex.
You can also get advice from these organisations:
Brook Advisory Centres - provide free and confidential advice on sex, relationships, contraception and pregnancy to young people under 25:
Family Planning Association - provides free advice on contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy: www.fpa.org.uk
NHS website - has a section on their website about sex and contraception: www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/are-you-ready-for-sex
Emergency contraception can be used by women whose contraception didn’t work or who didn’t use any. It must be taken quickly to stop a pregnancy so needs immediate contact with the GP or family planning clinic.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
If you don’t use a condom when you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex you could be at risk of getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). There are many different types and it’s important to remember that often they don’t have any symptoms. Using a condom doesn't offer 100% protection against STI's but it is the most effective method available.
If you think you might have an STI get it checked out as soon as possible as many are easy to treat. If you don’t get them treated they can lead to your reproductive system being damaged. If you do need treatment for an STI make sure that you've checked that it's ok to take it with any medication you're already taking.
The NHS website has more information about STIs:
Sexual health and genitourinary medicine clinics specialise in diagnosing and treating all STIs. Most large hospitals have a sexual health clinic and many areas have young people’s sexual health advisory services. You can find details of your nearest clinic on the Family Planning Association’s website: www.fpa.org.uk
The Brook Advisory Centre also have centres across the UK specifically for people under the age of 25 and provide free and confidential sexual health advice and services. Their website is: www.brook.org.uk