Yes, disabled people do have sex - and maybe we should talk about it

Jack West

"We're all human, we all have sex," 19-year-old Jack West says.

"Just because you're disabled doesn't mean you're not going to, or you're not able to do it."

As well as being a mixed martial arts fighter, Jack has hemiplegia, which affects the movement in the right side of his body.

"I do remember speaking to one person [online], I mentioned my disability and they said 'that's disgusting' and they didn't talk to me," he says.

"But I laughed about it. That's the sort of person I am. I've grown a thick skin."

A lot of the time they're drunk and they're like, 'I'll go with you, because I can tick you off my list'
Holly Dunkley

Like many 24-year-olds, Holly Dunkley is looking for a partner on dating apps and websites. She also uses a wheelchair.

"They ask me a lot about my sex life, that's pretty weird, because it's none of their business.

"They just assume that I'm a virgin," she says of the men she meets online.

Holly has cerebral palsy and sclerosis, where tissues in the body stiffen, and says some people she meets treat her disability like a "taboo", while only a "handful" speak to her like a normal person.

"They'll say things like, 'You're too pretty to be in a wheelchair,'" she says.

It does get frustrating, but you just have to carry on, don't you? There's someone out there for everyone
Holly Dunkley

Holly says one of the misconceptions is that a partner might "hurt" or "damage" her.

"You can have a normal sex life and have a disability," she explains.

New research from the charity Scope suggests that just one in 10 non-disabled young people has been on a date with a person with a disability.

Their new campaign, End the Awkward, is looking to make people feel more comfortable when talking to - or dating - a disabled person.

If you go to nightclubs it can be a nightmare because people try to set you up with their other disabled friends
Holly Dunkley

Jack has a condition known as hemiplegia, which affects the movement in the right side of his body. He is also a mixed marital arts fighter.

He's just started a new relationship and says he's confident talking to people in clubs and bars. He met his current girlfriend on a night out.

Jack West with boxing gloves on

Although the majority of his experiences are positive, occasionally when he's tried online dating, he has received unpleasant comments.

Scope is campaigning for non-disabled people to be more open to meeting people with a disability.

Their research, which surveyed 2,000 people from a self-selecting panel, suggests that more than half of people aged between 18 and 35 had never started a conversation with a disabled person.

Both Jack and Holly have lots of friends and both say they are the only people with a physical disability in their social group.

We're all human, we all have sex. Just because you're disabled doesn't mean you're not going to
Jack West

Scope's research suggests three quarters of young people had never invited a person with a disability out on a social occasion.

Jack says he enjoys going out on nights out but Holly says sometimes going for a drink can be difficult for her.

"If you go to nightclubs it can be a nightmare because people try to set you up with their other disabled friends," she explains.

Holly Dunkley

"If you go to bars, sometimes you meet nice people, but a lot of the time they're drunk and they're like, 'I'll go with you, because I can tick you off my list.'"

She adds: "If I'm honest, it does get frustrating, but you just have to carry on, don't you? There's someone out there for everyone."

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