Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability

Image description: the book sits in a tuft of grass at the base of a tree trunk. The cover is white with the title written in bold, bright colors of blue, red, green, orange, and pink. The subtitle is purple.

The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability by Miriam Kaufman MD, Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette is a lovely addition to the line of guide books published by Cleis Press. The book was originally published in 2003 with an updated version released in 2007.


I was born with nerve damage and I live with both visible and invisible disabilities. In my opinion, this book addresses issues in both types of disability very well.


As most guide books, the book includes a strong foundation of sexuality information.


Several chapters cover anatomy, sexual health, positioning, sex toys, and topics such as kink and Tantric sex. Two chapters, Chapter 7: Oral Sex and Chapter 11: S/M, highlight aspects of sexuality that do not center on penetrative sex.


I really like the authors are clear that being sexual includes much more than penetrative sex. There is a societal stereotype that this is the only “real” sex, and the authors make a great case for being sexual in a number of other ways. Indeed there is even an entire chapter dedicated to “Sex with Ourselves.” This was my favorite chapter.


Honing in on the topic of disability, the book discusses myths surrounding sex and disability, self-esteem issues, and ways to communicate about unique needs and desires.


The best part of the book, in my opinion, was the inclusion of quotes from people with disabilities that are used throughout the text to illustrate key points and concepts. These gave the book added texture and tastes of deeply personal and diverse experiences.


This book does not focus on one kind of disability. The subtitle reads “For all of us who live with disabilities, chronic pain and illness.” Therefore, some of the discussions are brief because the scope of the book does not allow for a lengthy discourse. Parts of this book may also seem unnecessary if you have a lot of sexual experience. But many other sex guide books on other topics, like kink and Tantra, include chapters that address those who are new in sexual experiences, so I didn’t feel like the authors were talking down to readers.


Overall I recommend this book to people with disabilities who feel they are alone in the world of sexuality, as I once did. I also recommend this book to counselors, caregivers, therapists, and anyone working in a human services or sexuality field. If your library—personal or public—does not have any titles regarding sex and disability, this book is a staple. It is still a valuable title and one I hold up as an important resource for the topic of sex and disability.

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