Background People with intellectual disabilities face barriers that affect their sexual health. Sex education programmes have been developed by professionals working in the field of intellectual disabilities with the aim to overcome these barriers. The aim of this study was to explore the development of these programmes. Methods Sex education programmes geared to people with intellectual disabilities were examined in the context of the Intervention Mapping protocol. Data were obtained via interviews with the programme developers. Results All programmes lack specific programme outcomes, do not have a theoretical basis, did not involve members of relevant groups in the development process and lack systematic evaluation. Conclusions Based on our findings and the literature, we conclude that these programmes are unlikely to be effective. Future programmes should be developed using a more systematic and theory- and evidence-based approach.