Featured

Understanding sexuality during your testicular cancer journey

Hi Readers! 

This week’s topic is testicular cancer. Specifically, how testicular cancer can affect your sexuality.

For all other information about testicular cancer, please visit the Orchid Cancer Appeal’s website. You will be able to download all the information you may want or need. If you or someone you know is affected by testicular cancer, call the Orchid Free National Helpline on 0808 802 0010 to speak to a specialist nurse. You can also email helpline@orchid-cancer.org.uk The helpline is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.

A lot of the information in today’s article is from Orchid Cancer Appeal.

Individuals who are affected by testicular cancer often have questions about their sexuality post-treatment. Usually, removing a testicle will not affect the sexual performance of an individual or their ability to conceive children as the remaining testicle will produce enough testosterone and sperm to compensate, as long as it is healthy. 

If both testicles need to be removed, testosterone replacement therapy will be needed. Testosterone replacement therapy is usually given in the form of injections or gels and should enable an individual with male anatomy to have sexual intercourse. Chemotherapy can cause temporary infertility that tends to persist for a (short) period of time after the treatment has finished. If you or a loved one is going through testicular cancer and its associated treatment, speak to the healthcare professional about options such as sperm storage or sperm banking. 

This is a great option for individuals who know they want a family as well as for those who are unsure. You will feel more at ease knowing that this is still an option.

Sexuality

Low libido is also a side effect of cancer and cancer treatment but the good news is a stable libido will return once treatment is over. Remember that intimacy is an important part of a couple’s sexuality. You can read more about intimacy here. If this is something you would like to explore, please see the self-help or the couple’s intimacy workbooks here

Talking about your concerns and fears of post-treatment sexuality with your partner can feel uncomfortable, scary, or timid. Communication within a couple is necessary. You cannot know what your partner is thinking if they do not tell you or you do not ask. Couples may find a new closeness after communicating. I invite you to read last week’s article about communication if you haven’t already done so, by clicking here.

“One common fear is that cancer cells can be passed on to a partner during sex. This is not true. Cancer is not infectious and it is perfectly safe to have sexual intercourse” – Orchid Cancer Appeal.

For more information please visit www.orchid-cancer.org.uk and yourprivates.org.uk 

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going! There is so much more to come. You can also purchase self-help workbooks in our shop!

£5.00

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Featured

This is Why Communication is so Famous!

Hi Readers! 

This week’s topic is communication but more specifically, communication within your couple. It is imperative that you do not lose sight of the fact that the role of communication is to make the relationship stronger, not to break it. 

A few tips to consider before starting a healthy and calm conversation with your partner:

  • Let your partner know that you want to talk about topic X. Set a time and a place that is comfortable and possible for both of you. 
  • When you are stressed about something, it is easy to get defensive. Try some breathing exercises prior to the conversation to help calm yourself.
  • As they say… honesty is the best policy! Be open about your fears, concerns, and desires with your partner.
  • Give your partner a chance to express themselves and use active listening skills like repeating what your partner said to ensure you understand. Do your best to validate your partner’s feelings with words of understanding. Listening to another person is about them, not you. Put aside your point of view, thoughts, opinions, and reactions while they are speaking. They need to be heard as much as you do. 
  • The conversation should have open-ended questions. An interaction consisting of yes / no questions would not be a conversation. 
  • Know when you need to stop talking. If the conversation starts to get heated, it is probably time to wrap it up and conclude. Remember why you started the conversation. It wasn’t to start an argument. If things are constantly difficult, it may be a good idea to get in touch with a couple’s counsellor. 

Unfortunately, the reality of most conversations within a couple is one party gets blamed /victimised more than the other. Avoid lapsing into attacking, accusing, criticising, or blaming your partner. Talk about yourself. Beginning a statement with “I feel that… I think we should……” instead of “You are doing….”

There is a difference between listening and hearing. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Hearing simply happens. Listening however is something that one consciously chooses to do. Listening requires concentration so that the brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening leads to learning. This isn’t always easy. The normal adult rate of speech is 100-150 words per minute but the brain can think at a rate of 400-500 words a minute, leaving extra time for daydreaming or anticipation. 

Listening skills can be learned and refined. Active listening allows you to be sensitive to the multiple dimensions of communication:

  • The occasion of the message: what is the reason why the person is communicating with me now?
  • The length of the message: What can the length of the message tell me about its importance?
  • The words chosen: Is the message being delivered formally? Or with slang?
  • The volume & pace: What clues do the loudness and speed give me?
  • The pauses & hesitations: How do these enhance or detract from the message?
  • The non-verbal clues: What do eye contact, posture, or facial expressions tell me about the message?

Please remember to stay respectful, open, honest, calm, and have compassion.

You can also purchase our Couple’s Intimacy Workbook here to help you and your partner improve, maintain or restore the intimacy in your couple. 

Be kind to one another, 

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going! There is so much more to come. You can also purchase self-help workbooks in our shop!

£5.00

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Featured

How Stress is Affecting your Sex Life

Hi Readers!

April is Stress Awareness Month. Starting in 1992, this is a national campaign to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society. 

Dealing with stress can affect your sex life and relationships. When stress is applied, the body must react and change in order to cope. It does this through a release of hormones, like cortisol and epinephrine, which can cause a decrease in your libido. There are also psychological effects, being stressed about a multitude of things can impact your mood and a busy mind can distract you from wanting sex and lower your libido. Stress can also affect your lifestyle; some people deal with stress by smoking, drinking, overeating, forgetting about self-care, and exercising. These choices will influence how you feel about yourself and interfere with your sex life. 

If you suspect that life stress is putting a damper on your libido, the first thing you should consider is stress management. Changing the way you perceive and digest stress can help you manage it better. There are many known strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety to ensure they won’t have an impact on your sexuality: meditation, high-intensity exercise, yoga, journaling, and aromatherapy are just a few examples.

It is also recommended that you look at the health of your relationships. If there are stress and conflicts within those relationships, it may have an impact on your libido. It is important that you are communicating with the other person in your relationship. Try to understand the challenges you face together rather than being against each other. Spoil alert! Blaming one another doesn’t get you anywhere and you won’t find a solution that way. Be conscious of how you are getting your argument/point of view across. Using “ I feel….” or “I would like…” rather than “you did this…” and “you are so…”  * stay tuned for next week’s article about communication to learn more. 

Pick up a hobby together. Exercising together can be a fun way of spending time together. Make time for each other during the week. Practice just being together, with no pressure to have sex. A lot of couples tend to put pressure on sexual intercourse, but sexuality and intimacy are so much more than that. Focus on sensations and experiences rather than focusing on sex. For example: hugging, mutual massages, taking a bath/shower together.

Practice self-care and self-esteem, they make a difference in your sex life. If you don’t feel good about yourself, it will transpire in your sexuality and you won’t feel like having sex and being intimate with your partner.  

Our Intimacy Self-Help workbook and our Couple’s Intimacy workbook are available to purchase. 

Our Guide to Self-Love workbook is available to purchase here

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going! There is so much more to come. You can also purchase self-help workbooks in our shop!

£5.00

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Featured

Vaginismus

Hi Readers!

This week’s topic is Vaginismus.

Vaginismus is when the vagina suddenly tightens up just as you try to insert something into it. It can be painful and cause distress. The good news is that this can be treated.

Vaginismus is an automatic reaction to the fear of some or all types of vaginal penetration. Whenever penetration is attempted, the vaginal muscles tighten up on their own. The person has no control over this. Vaginismus does not necessarily affect the ability to get aroused and enjoy other types of sexual contact. 

If you are experiencing vaginismus, remember it is not your fault and there is nothing to be ashamed of. 

NHS recommends that you see a GP or go to a sexual health clinic if:

  • You find it hard inserting a tampon into your vagina 
  • You struggle with vaginal penetration during sex
  • You feel burning or stinging pain during sex 

Treatment for vaginismus usually focuses on managing feelings around penetration and exercises to gradually get used to penetration. Possible treatments are psychosexual therapy, relaxation techniques, pelvic floor exercises, sensate focus, and vaginal trainers. 

There are no obvious explanations for vaginismus, but there are some things thought to cause it; such as fear that the vagina is too small, a bad first sexual experience, an unpleasant medical examination, a belief that sex is shameful or wrong or a painful medical condition.

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

cropped-instagram-profile-image-1.png

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going. So many more interesting articles to come! You can also visit our shop for self-help workbooks

£5.00

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Featured

World Tuberculosis Day

Hi Readers! 

Today is World Tuberculosis Day. This day is to raise awareness about the health, social and economic consequences of Tuberculosis (TB). In 1882, Dr Robert Koch announced that he discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which paved the way to diagnosing and curing the disease. 

Each year, close to 28,000 people become ill with TB and nearly four thousand of them lose their lives, which makes this the deadliest infection! TB is preventable and curable. Since the year 2000, global efforts have saved approximately 63 million lives. 

The clock is ticking! A World TB Day campaign for action!

On World TB Day, WHO calls on everyone to keep the promise to:

  • Accelerate the End TB Response to reach the targets set in Sustainable Development Goals, WHO End TB Strategy, the Moscow Declaration to End TB and the political declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting on TB.
  • Diagnose and treat 40 million people with TB by 2022 including 3.5 million children and 1.5 million people with drug-resistant TB. This is in line with WHO’s overall drive towards Universal Health Coverage and the WHO Director General’s flagship initiative “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” jointly with the Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership.
  • Reach 30 million people with TB preventive treatment by 2022 so that those people most at risk receive TB preventive treatment, including 24 million household contacts of TB patients – 4 million of whom are children under 5 – and 6 million people living with HIV.
  • Mobilize sufficient and sustainable financing to reach USD 13 billion a year to support efforts to end TB; for every USD 1 invested to end TB, USD 43 is returned as the benefits of a healthy functioning society (Economist/ Copenhagen Consensus).
  • Invest in TB research to reach at least USD 2 billion a year for better science, better tools and better delivery.

THE CLOCK IS TICKING. IT’S TIME TO KEEP OUR PROMISES. IT’S TIME TO #END TB.

You can find the campaign tool kit here

Share the information

Be Kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going! Our aim is to create a safe space where you can get all the information you want and need about sexual health

£5.00

 

Featured

Let’s talk about the birds and the bees…

Hi Readers!

Great News!!!

In 3 days it will be spring!!! March 20th is the first day of spring! More people are out, it is beginning to warm up, a new beginning, days are longer! More people will be going out on dates, forming couples, etc. This is a great time to take a deep dive into the human reproductive anatomy! Let’s go!

There is one common part in both male and female genital anatomy and that is the anus. It is the opening of the rectum. The anus has a lot of sensitive nerve endings, so some people enjoy sexual pleasure from stimulating this body part.

We will begin with what is typically called ‘male genitalia’. 

The external anatomy is:

  • The penis: It is made of 3 layers of spongy tissue. When a person is aroused, blood fills these tissues. This causes the penis to become hard and stand up erect and is called an erection. The average size of an adult erect penis is between 5 to 7 inches long. All penises look different. For example: some curve, some are circumsized, others not, etc. (This is normal!!) They may look different, but they all have the same parts.
  • Glans: This is also commonly called the head or tip of the penis and contains the opening for the urethera. This is also where the pre-ejaculate and semen come out of as well as urine. For many, this is the most sensitive part of the penis. 
  • Shaft: The shaft of the penis extends from the tip to where it connects to the lower belly. The urethra is inside the shaft.
  • Foreskin: This is a patch of skin that covers and protects the glans. When the penis is erect, the foreskin pulls back and the tip is exposed. For some, foreskin is circumcised (surgically removed by a doctor soon after birth). 
  • Frenulum: This is where the foreskin meets the underside of the penis. It looks like a V just below the glans. This is very sensitive for many.
  • The Scrotum: This is the sac of skin that hangs below the penis. The scrotum holds the testicles and keeps them at the right temperature. If it’s too cold, the scrotum pulls the testicles closer to the body and vice-a-versa if it’s too warm. This part of the genitalia is covered by hair, which varies in colour. The scrotum can be big or small and may differ between the right side and the left side. The scrotum is very sensitive.

The internal anatomy is:

  • Testicles: They are the 2 ball-like glands inside the scrotum. They make sperm and hormones like testosterone.
  • Epididymis: This is the tube where the sperm matures. It connects each testicle to each vas deferens. It holds the sperm before ejaculation.
  • Vas Deferens: This is a long, narrow tube that carries sperm from the epididymis to the seminal vesicles during ejaculation. There is is one vas deferens for each epididymis.
  • Seminal Vesicles: These are 2 small organs that produce semen, the fluid that the sperm moves in. This is located below the bladder.
  • Prostate gland: Makes the fluid that helps your sperm move. It is approximately the size of a walnut of golf ball. The prostate gland is sensitive to the touch that can be pleasurable for many.
  • Cowper’s Glands: This produces fluid called pre-ejaculate. It prepares the urethra for ejaculation. It reduces friction so the semen can move easily. These glands are under the prostate and attached to the urethra. 
  • Urethra: This tube carries urine, pre-ejaculate and semen out of the body.
  • Cremaster: This is a muscle that moves the scrotum and testicles closer to the body. It happens  when it is too cold, when the individual is aroused or when the inner thigh is touched.   
PHOTO CREDIT: webmd
PHOTO CREDIT: webmd

Now let’s learn about what is typically “female genitalia”.

  • Vulva: part of the genitals on the outside of the body. The vulva has a lot more parts than just the vagina. Lots of people tend to say vagina when they really mean vulva although vagina is part of the vulva. Just like penises, there are no 2 vulvas that look the same, but they are made up of the same parts.
  • Labia: These are commonly called the lips, which are folds of skin around the vaginal opening. The labia majora, the outer lips, are usually covered with pubic hair. The labia minora, the inner lips, are inside the outer lips. These begin at the clitoris and end under the opening of the vagina. The labias vary in colour, some are pink, some are brown. The colour can change as individuals get older. Labias are sensitive and swell when aroused. 
  • Clitoris: The tip of the clitoris is located at the top of the vulva, where the inner lips meet. It is also covered by the clitoral hood. The size of the clitoris varies. The part that is visible is only the beginning of the clitoris as it extends inside the body and down on both sides of the vagina and is approximately 5 inches long. The clitoris is made of spongy tissues that become swollen when aroused. It has thousands of nerve endings – more than any other part of the human body, so you can imagine that it brings lots of pleasure!
  • Opening of the Urethra: This is a tiny hole that the urine comes out of, located just below the clitoris.
  • Opening of the vagina: It is located right below the urethral opening. It is where menstrual blood leaves the body, and through which babies are usually born. 
  • Mons Pubis: The mons is a mound above the vulva. After puberty, it is covered with pubic hair. The mons pubis cushions the pubic bone. 

The internal parts female sexual anatomy:

  • Vagina: A tube that connects the vulva with the cervix and uterus. It’s what babies and menstrual blood leave the body through. The vagina is really stretchy, and expands when a person is aroused. 
  • Cervix: The cervix is located and divides the vagina and uterus. It is round and has a hole in the middle which connects the uterus and the vagina. It let’s menstrual blood out and sperm in. It dilates during childbirth. The cervix separates the vagina from the rest of the body. 
  • Uterus: This is a pear-shaped muscular organ. This is where the foetus grows during pregnancy, some refer to it as the womb. During sexual arousal, the lower part of the uterus lifts toward the belly button, which is why the vagina gets longer when aroused.  
  • Fallopian tubes: These are 2 narrow tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. These are also used by the sperm to travel to fertilise an egg.
  • Fimbriae: Look like tiny fingers at the end of each fallopian tube. When the ovary releases an egg, they sweep it into the fallopian tube.
  • Ovaries: The ovaries store the eggs. They produce hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These hormones control things like your period and pregnancy. 
  • Bartholin’s glands: These glands are near the vaginal opening. They release fluid that lubricates the vagina when aroused. 
  • Skene’s glands: They are on either side of the urethral opening. They release fluid during female ejaculation. 
  • Hymen: This is a thin tissue that stretches across part of the opening to the vagina. Hymens can sometimes, but not always, tear and cause some bleeding the first time vaginal penetration occurs. 
  • G spot: The famous Gräfenberg spot! It is located on the front or belly-button side of the vagina. It is a few inches inside the vagina and swells when aroused. Some like the feeling of their G-spot being touched. 
Photo credit: WebMD 
Photo credit: PlannedParenthood
Photo credit: PlannedParenthood

You should explore your body and get to know what your genitalia look and feel like. Yes, that means grab a mirror and check yourself out!! It is important to know what ‘YOUR normal’ looks and feels like so if something doesn’t seem right you are able to better identify it and seek out medical assistance.

Happy Spring Equinox!!

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

Featured

UK SAYS NO MORE

Hi Readers! 

March 7th to 13th is UK SAYS NO MORE. This campaign’s aim is to unite and strengthen a diverse community of the public and organisations nationwide to actively take a stand against domestic abuse and sexual violence. 

Domestic abuse and sexual violence can impact anyone, at any point in their life, regardless of their background, age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status or sexuality. 

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse can happen anytime and in any type of partner relationship. At times family members and extended family members can take part in the abuse. These include “honour” based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. The abuse an individual will experience will differ from circumstance to circumstance. The types of violence can include, but is  not limited to, physical, economic, financial, online, psychological and emotional abuse, coercive control and sexual abuse.

It is important that we believe all victims of abuse, we respond by listening without judgement and offer support by referring to specialist support services. 

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is a term used to encompass any type of unwanted sexual act or activity, including rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and many others. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, at any age. 

It is important to remember that it is never the survivor’s fault. The responsibility lies solely with the perpetrator.

It is also important to remember that the survivor has the choice and control over what they want to do next. 

Impacts on the victims

  • Over time, the survivor’s self-esteem may be worn down. They may believe their abuser’s insults. 
  • The survivor may blame themselves for the abuse. It is not their fault.
  • The survivor may feel a sense of shame, sadness and powerlessness.
  • Low self-esteem, feeling unworthy
  • Low self-image
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); including flashbacks, nightmares, uncontrollable thoughts
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
    • If someone you know if feeling suicidal, please give them the phone number of a local or national charity / helpline that they can call for help
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to trust

If you are worried about someone you know, reach out to them. Before you do that, make sure you have the information you need, such as domestic violence resources in your country, so you know where to signpost the person. You can also help them through their next steps. Remember that it is difficult and may take time for an individual to want to talk and divulge information about abuse. Be patient with them. 

It will also take some time for the survivor to get back to being “themselves”. It takes work to undo what has been done to them. These survivors are courageous, respectful, powerful and resilient. 

You can click here for resources.

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going. The aim is to help you improve, maintain or restore your sexual health

£5.00

Featured

#ChooseToChallenge

Hi Readers!

Monday 8 March 2021 is International Women’s Day! 

The 2021 campaign is focused on challenge and change, #ChooseToChallenge.

The premise is that a challenged world, is an alert world. 

As individuals, of all gender identities, we are responsible for our actions and thoughts. You have the power and the choice to challenge and speak up. It is when things are challenged, that there is a change. There is still a lot of work to be done to create a gender-equal world, but collectively we can make a change. 

So, I challenge you to take a photo of yourself in the #ChooseToChallenge pose.

#choosetochallenge

Will you actively call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time you see it? Will you choose to challenge? 

You can submit your #ChooseToChallenge pose on the IWD website and they will be sharing them on their platforms in the lead up to International Women’s Day on March 8th. 

All gender identities are welcome and encouraged. 

For teachers, tutors and educators the International Women’s Day downloadable resources can be found here.

Remember that when you #ChooseToChallenge it is not just on International Women’s Day or during the month of March. You #ChooseToChallenge for the year! 

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going. The aim is to help you improve, maintain or restore your sexual health

£5.00

Featured

Puberty – boys

Hi Readers!

As promised, this week’s topic is about puberty in boys.

Puberty is when a child’s body begins to develop and change as they become an adult. Boys develop a deeper voice and facial hair will start to appear. The average age for boys to begin puberty is 12. But it varies from boy to boy. Do not worry if the child reaches puberty before or after their friends. It is normal for puberty to begin at any point from the ages 8 to 14 and the process takes up to 4 years.

What are the first signs of puberty?

The first sign of puberty for boys is usually that their testicles get bigger and the scrotum begins to thin and redden, pubic hair also starts to appear at the base of the penis. 

Beginning one year after the start of puberty and continuing for the next three years:

  • The penis and testicles grow and the scrotum gradually becomes darker
  • Pubic hair becomes thicker and curlier
  • Underarm hair starts to grow
  • More sweat
  • Breasts can slightly swell temporarily (no, this is not the same as “man-boobs”)
  • Boys may have “wet dreams”. These are involuntary ejaculations of semen as they sleep
  • The voice starts to get permanently deeper
  • Acne starts to develop
  • Growth spurt (around 3 inches a year)

After approximately 4 years, genitals are adult-like and pubic hair has spread to the inner thighs, facial hair begins to grow and boys generally start to shave. While boys continue to grow until age 16, growth is at a slower rate than during the first four years and, by age 18, they will have reached adult maturity. 

How does it affect children?

This period in life can be very difficult. There are a lot of changes happening in the body and the appearance of acne and body odours can lead children / teens to feel self-conscious. Puberty can also be an exciting time as they develop new emotions and feelings. That being said, many go through an emotional “rollercoaster” which can have psychological and emotional effects. For example, unexplained mood swings, low self-esteem, low self-image as they become more and more self-conscious, aggression or depression. 

Although is may seem like no one understands, everyone has and will go through these changes. 

If you are going through puberty, it is important to talk and let these feelings out; talk to a friend, a teacher, a counsellor, your parents, a family member.

As for parents, it can seem difficult talking to your child if they do not seem like themselves psychologically. Let them know you are there for them. You can bring up the subject. The NHS has a few pages for parents for coping with their children and talking to your teen.

Be kind to one another 

Julia, Sexologist

Featured

Puberty – Girls

Hi Readers!

This week’s subject is about puberty in girls. I will cover puberty in boys next week!

Puberty is when a child’s body begins to develop and change as they become an adult.

Girls develop breasts and start their periods. The average age for girls to begin puberty is 11. Do not worry if a child reaches puberty before or after their friends, is it different for everyone. It is normal for puberty to begin at any point from the ages 8 to 14 and the process takes up to 4 years.

What are the first signs of puberty?

During the first couple of years of puberty, girls undergo many changes:

  • Breasts grow and become fuller
  • First menstruation
  • Pubic hair becomes coarser and curlier
  • Underarm hair begins to grow along with hair on other parts of the body
  • Girls start to sweat more
  • Appearance of acne 
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Growth spurts until adult height is reached at the end of puberty
  • Most girls gain weight as their body shape changes

After approximately 4 years of puberty, breasts are fully developed, pubic hair has spread to the inner thigh, genitals are fully developed and the teenager stops growing. 

How does puberty affect children?

This period can be very difficult. There are a lot of changes happening in the body and the appearance of acne and body odours can lead children / teens to feel self-conscious. Puberty can also be an exciting time as they develop new emotions and feelings. That being said, many go through an emotional “rollercoaster” which can have psychological and emotional effects. For example, unexplained mood swings, low self-esteem, low self-image as they become more and more self-conscious, aggression or depression. 

Although it may seem like no one understands, everyone has and will go through these changes. If you are going through puberty, it is important to let these feelings out; talk to a friend, a teacher, a counsellor, your parents, a family member.

And for all you parents out there, it might feel difficult to talk to your child when they do not seem like themselves psychologically but it is important to let them know you are there for them. In fact, the NHS has some resources that can help you start the conversation with your teenager. Parents for coping with their children and talking to your teen.  

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going.

£5.00

Featured

V-Day

Hi Readers!

Although we are in lockdown, and most shops are closed, that doesn’t stop them from selling us stuff for Valentine’s Day… Galentine’s Day… it’s everywhere; on TV, on social media, on the radio, in our inboxes, etc. 

Some of you will still feel pressured to purchase that card, those chocolates, that teddy bear, have dinner out, etc. Why not try something different this year? 

Some people love Valentine’s Day, others say it’s a money making/marketing “holiday”.

I would also like to put something out into the open… just because you are not in a couple, have a special someone in your life or you usually do a Galentine’s day with your friends, that doesn’t mean you cannot have a special day/evening to yourself. (And it shouldn’t just be on February 14th).

If you are spending lockdown alone, make this day extra special for yourself. Make your favourite food and/or dessert. Pamper yourself, buy yourself flowers or chocolate or whatever your heart desires – you deserve it! You can also purchase my Guide to Self-Love and spend a couple of hours doing that 😉 Don’t forget you get 25% off until the end of the month with the code LOVEYOURSELF21

If you are with your special someone, create a date night in. It does not have to be extravagant. Communicate, ask each other what you would like to do. And if that is to eat jelly babies while watching a murder movie, so be it. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that all the glitz and glamour is not necessary and not as important as society makes it seem. 

Just remember that loving yourself, showing yourself self-love, showing your partner / special someone acts of love, gifting chocolate or flowers should not be limited to 1 day a year. Be spontaneous with yourself and others! 

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Help this blog to keep going by clicking here

Featured

HIV Testing Week

Hi Readers!

This week, February 1st to 7th, 2021 is National HIV Testing Week in the UK.

What is National HIV Testing Week?

This week seeks to promote and encourage regular testing among key populations. The aim is to reduce the number of undiagnosed people and those who are diagnosed late. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, National HIV Testing Week 2021 will focus on promoting HIV testing at home. 

This year’s campaign is a continuation of “Give HIV the finger: a finger-prick test is all it takes”. This has been a success for the last 2 years. 

You can read the campaign briefing here.

You can learn more about this innitiative here.

Be Kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going! We are here to educate you, give you the knowledge and content you need & want. If you have a special article request please contact us via email on depetrillojulia@gmail.com.

£5.00

Featured

February Daily Affirmation Challenge

Hi Readers! 

I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that beginning tomorrow we will be doing a daily affirmations challenge on our instagram page. You can still access this page even if you do not have an instagram account. Click here to follow the challenge.

Every day, for the entire month of February, there will be a new daily affirmation for you to say out loud. This coincides with the launch of our new e-book A guide to Self-Love that you can purchase here. We have created 2 versions. The content is the same, it is the appearance that is different. 

And to help you begin or continue your self-love journey, I am gifting you 25% off these e-books. Just use the code LOVEYOURSELF21 at checkout!!

Are you ready?!?

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going! We are here to educate you, give you the knowledge and content you need & want. If you have a special article request please contact us via email on depetrillojulia@gmail.com.

£5.00

Featured

STIs

Hi Readers! 

This week, we will expand our knowledge on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

If you are worried that you have an STI, go for a check-up at a sexual health clinic as soon as you can. Do not have sex, including oral sex until you have had a check-up. 

Some clinics offer home testing kits for some STIs.

STI symptoms:

  • Unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or anus
  • Pain when urinating
  • Lumps or skin growths around the genitals or anus 
  • A rash
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Itchy genitals or anus
  • Blisters and sores around the genitals or anus

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common STI in the UK. It gets passed on through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) and is particularly common in sexually active teenagers and young adults. If you are under the age of 25 and are sexually active, it is highly recommended you get tested for chlamydia every year or when you change sexual partners.

Symptoms:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or anus
  • For women, pain in the tummy, bleeding after sex and bleeding in between menstruation
  • For men, pain and swelling in the testicles

You can get chlamydia through:

  • Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
  • Sharing sex toys that are not washed or covered with a new condom each time they are used
  • Your genitals coming into contact with your partner’s genitals – this means you can get chlamydia from someone even if there is no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation
  • Infected semen or vaginal fluid getting into your eye
  • It can be passed on by a pregnant woman to her baby. 

Chlamydia cannot be passed on through casual contact such as kissing, hugging or sharing baths, towels, swimming pools and toilets.

Treatment: 

  • Chlamydia is treated with a course of antibiotics. 

Gonorrhoea

The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea are mainly found in discharge from the penis and in vaginal fluid. This STI is easily passed on through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, sharing sex toys that have not been washed or covered with a new condom each time they’re used. 

The bacteria can infect the entrance to the womb (cervix), the tube that passes urine (urethra), the rectum and, less commonly, the throat or eyes. 

The infection can be passed on from a pregnant woman to her baby. If you are pregnant and may have gonorrhoea, itIis important to get tested and treated before your baby is born because without treatment, gonorrhoea can cause permanent blindness in a newborn baby.

Gonorrhoea cannot spread by kissing, hugging, swimming pools, toilets, sharing a bath, towels, cups, plates or cutlery. The bacteria cannot survive outside the human body for long. 

Symptoms:

  • Thick green or yellow discharge from vagina, penis, pain when peeing and in women, bleeding between menstruation. However, around 1 in 10 infected men and almost half of infected women do not experience any symptoms (NHS).

Treating Gonorrhoea

  • Usually treated with a course of antibiotics.
  • You should avoid having sex until you have been told you no longer have the infection.
  • Previous, successful treatment for gonorrhoea does not make you immune to catching it again.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a STI caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis (TV). In women, this parasite mainly infects the vagina and the urethra. In men, the infection mostly affects the urethra, but the head of the penis or prostate gland can become infected in some cases.

The parasite is usually spread by having sex without using a condom. You can also contract trichomoniasis by sharing sex toys if they were not washed or covered by a condom. You do not have to have multiple sexual partners to catch trichomoniasis.

You cannot get or pass on trichomoniasis through kissing, hugging, sharing cups, plates, cutlery or toilet seats.

Symptoms:

Symptoms usually develop within a month of infection, but approximately half of the people will not develop any symptoms (but they can still pass the infection). Trichomoniasis can be difficult to diagnose as it has similar symptoms to many STIs.

  • Trichomoniasis in women:
    • Abnormal vaginal discharge that may be thick, thin or frothy and yellow-green in colour.
    • Producing more discharge than normal, which may also have an unpleasant fishy smell.
    • Soreness, swelling and itching around the vagina – sometimes the inner thighs also become itchy.
    • Pain or discomfort when passing urine or having sex.
  • Trichomoniasis in men:
    • Pain when passing urine or during ejaculation
    • Needing to pee more frequently than usual
    • Thin, white discharge from the penis
    • Soreness, swelling and redness around the head of the penis or foreskin

The best way to prevent trichomoniasis is to have safe sex, which means using a condom when having sex, covering any sex toys with a condom and washing your toys after every use.

Treatment:

  • This parasite is unlikely to go away without treatment. It can be effectively treated with antibiotics. It is important to avoid having sex while on treatment. Wait until the infection clears up before resuming your sexual activities. 

Complications:

Complications of trichomoniasis are rare, although some women with the infection may be at an increased risk of further problems. If you are infected with trichomoniasis while pregnant, the infection may cause your baby to be born prematurely or have low birth weight.

Genital warts

Genital warts are a common STI passed on by vaginal and anal sex, sharing toys and rarely by oral sex. You can get genital warts from skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal and anal sex, sharing sex toys and oral sex, though this is less common. 

Symptoms:

  • 1 or more painless growths or lumps around your vagina, penis or anus. 
  • Itching or bleeding from your genitals or anus
  • A change to your normal flow of urination.
  • A sexual partner who has genital warts, even if you do not have symptoms

Treatment for genital warts:

  • The treatment needs to be prescribed by a doctor. 
  • The type of treatment will depend on what the wart looks like and where they are.
  • Treatment can be cream or liquid, surgery or freezing.

If you notice these warts, consult your GP and/or sexual clinic as soon as you can.

If you have genital warts and are pregnant, tell your GP or midwife. Genital warts during pregnancy can grow and multiply, might appear for the first time, or come back after a long time of not being there. They can still be treated safely (but some treatment should be avoided); they may be removed if they’re very big to avoid problems during birth. These may be passed to the baby during birth, but it is rare.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a STI passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex. 

You can get genital herpes from skin-to-skin contact with an infected area (including vaginal, anal and oral sex), even when there are no visible sores or blisters, if a cold sore touches your genitals, by transferring the infection on fingers from someone else to your genitals or by sharing sex toys with someone who has herpes. It is therefore recommended that you do not have oral sex if you have cold sore.

Symptoms:

  • Small blisters around your genitals, anus, thighs or bottom
  • Tingling, burning or itching around your genitals 
  • Pain when you urinate
  • In women, vaginal discharge 

You should speak to your GP or go to a sexual health clinic if you see blisters, even if you haven’t had sex in a while, as blisters take months or years to appear. 

Treatment:

  • There is no cure, symptoms will clear up by themselves, but the blisters can come back (outbreak or recurrence). You may be prescribed antiviral medicine (including as a cream) to stop the symptoms from getting worse.

Always keep the areas of the outbreak clean to prevent infection.

Genital herpes can be more serious for people living with HIV. If you are living with HIV, and have genital herpes, you will be referred to a GUM clinic. 

Women with herpes before pregnancy can usually expect to have a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery. If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, there is a risk your baby could develop a serious illness called neonatal herpes.

Pubic lice

Public lice, sometimes called crabs, are tiny insects that live on coarse human body hair, such as public hair. They may also be found in underarm and leg air, hair on the chest, abdomen and back, facial hair, such as beards and moustaches, eyelashes and eyebrows (occasionally). Unlike head lice, pubic lice don’t live in scalp hair. It is spread through close bodily contact, most commonly sexual contact. 

Symptoms:

  • Itching in the affected areas, especially at night
  • Inflammation and irritation caused by scratching
  • Black powder in your underwear
  • Blue spots or small spots of blood on your skin, such as your thighs or lower abdomen (caused by lice bites)

Treatment:

Can be treated at home with insecticide cream, lotion or shampoo

Complications:

  • Sometimes a pubic lice infestation can lead to minor complications, such as skin or eye problems.
  • Can lead to skin infection
  • Eye infection, like conjunctivitis, eye inflammation
  • Mild fever, feeling tired

It is important to seek medical attention if you have severe skin irritation or sore eyes

Scabies

Scabies is very common and anyone can get it. It should be treated quickly to stop the spreading.

One of the first symptoms is itching, especially at night.

Scabies is very infectious, but can take up to 8 weeks for the rash to appear.

During your treatment, you should not have sex or come into close contact with anyone.

Scabies can spread easily. 

Complications:

  • Scratching can cause infections
  • Scabies can make conditions like eczema and psoriasis worse.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that’s usually caught by close contact or having sex with someone who is infected.

It is very important to get tested and treated as soon as possible. Syphilis can be cured with a course of antibiotics. That being said, you can get syphilis more than once.

Symptoms:

  • Small, painless sores and ulcers that typically appear on the penis, vagina, or around the anus, but can occur in other places (i.e.: the mouth)
  • A blotchy red rash that often affects the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
  • Small skin growths (similar to genital warts) that may develop on the vulva in women or around the anus for both men and women
  • White patches in the mouth
  • Tiredness, headaches, joint pains, high temperature and swollen glands in your neck, groin, or armpits.

If left untreated, syphilis can spread to the brain or other parts of the body and cause serious long-term problems.

Treatment:

  • Injection of antibiotics.

Syphilis in pregnancy:

If a woman is infected while pregnant, it can be very dangerous for her baby if not treated. Infection in pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or serious infection in the baby.

Screening for syphilis during pregnancy is offered to all pregnant women so the infection can be detected and treated before it causes any complications.

Preventing STIs

  • Use a male or female condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex
  • Use a condom to cover the penis during oral sex
  • Using a dam (a piece of thin, soft plastic or latex ) to cover the female genitals during oral sex or when rubbing female genitals together. (Cool trick: you can cut a condom to create a dam! Cut the tip on the condom, then cut it lengthwise. You will see that it looks like a rectangle. It is ready to use. Keep good hygiene with this. Do not start flipping it over.)
  • Not sharing sex toys. And if you do share them, use a condom (one for each person) to cover them or wash them after each person who uses them.

I hope this article has help you better understand STIs and why it is important to keep good hygiene and use protection!

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going! We are here to educate you, give you the knowledge and content you need & want. If you have a special article request please contact us via email on depetrillojulia@gmail.com.

£5.00

Featured

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Hi Readers! 

January 18 to 24 2021 is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. 

This week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the risks of cervical cancer and to help everyone with cervixes learn about how to reduce these risks and prevent the illness. 

It is very important for women and all people with cervixes to reduce their risk of cervical cancer by:

  • Having a cervical screening
  • Knowing the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and seeking medical advice if experiencing any 
  • Taking the HPV vaccine if aged 11 to 18 and encouraging others to do so
  • Knowing where to find support and further information

Jo’s trust has a 2021 campaign for cervical cancer prevention week. You can also check out The Grace Charity and the Eve Appeal for more information on gynaecological cancer awareness. 

Cervical cancer develops in the cervix, which is the entrance of the womb from the vagina. It mainly affects sexually active women between 30 and 45 years old.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

  • Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (can happen during or after sex, in between menstruation or new bleeding after you have been through menopause); this bleeding does not mean you have cancer, but it is strongly suggested to speak speak to your GP as soon as possible and get it checked out. If your GP suspects cancer, they will refer you to a specialist within 2 weeks.

What tests to I have to go through for cervical cancer?

Regular cervical screenings (“smear tests”): The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites everyone with a cervix from age 25 to 64 to attend a cervical screening

  • People aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every 3 years 
  • People aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every 5 years

During the cervical screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities. In some cases, the sample will be tested for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause abnormal cells. 

An abnormal test result does not mean you definitely have cancer. In most cases, it is due to signs of HPV, which is treatable. 

What are the causes of cervical cancer?

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. It is a very common virus that can be passed on through any type of sexual contact with either a man or a woman.

There are more than 100 types of HPV, many of which are harmless. But some types can cause abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix, which can eventually lead to cervical cancer.

Two strains, HPV 16 and 18 are known to be responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. They do not have any symptoms, so women do not realise they have it. While these infections are very common, most women who have them do not develop cervical cancer. 

Using a condom during sexual activity offers some protection against HPV. HPV is also spread through skin-to-skin contact of the wider genital ares.

The HPV vaccine has been routinely offered to girls aged 12 and 13 since 2008.

How to treat cervical cancer?

If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it’s usually possible to treat it using surgery. In some cases, it’s possible to leave the womb in place, but sometimes it may need to be removed. The surgical procedure used to remove the womb is called a hysterectomy. Radiotherapy is another option for people with early-stage cervical cancer. In some cases, it’s used alongside surgery or chemotherapy, or both. 

More advanced cases of cervical cancer are usually treated using a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some of the treatments can have significant and long lasting side effects, including early menopause and infertility.

Complications

Some women with cervical cancer may develop complications. These can arise as a direct result of the cancer or as a side effect of the treatments (radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery). 

The complications associated with cervical cancer can range from the relatively minor; like some bleeding from the vagina or having to pee frequently, to life threatening; such as severe bleeding or kidney failure.

Cervical cancer and sexuality

Being diagnosed with cervical cancer and undergoing treatment have an affect on how you see yourself sexually and physically. Radiotherapy and a hysterectomy can cause physical changes which may have an effect on your sex life. Radiotherapy to the pelvis can cause dryness or narrowing of the vagina. Most feelings and emotions around the changes and sex are related to feeling anxious about the pain, bleeding and thinking it will feel different than before. This also affects the partners as they are worried they may hurt their partner. 

Some are still facing these fears where as others have overcome the initials fears and emotions and have been able to rebuild their sex life. 

Infertility can be a side effect of some treatments. This may affect how they see themselves.

Some have experienced premature menopause after radiotherapy, which comes with its own challenges.

I hope this article has helped you better understand cervical cancer. 

If you have a cervix and are aged 25 to 64, make sure you are speaking to your GP about undergoing regular screenings.

Be kind to one another, 

Julia, Sexologist

Instagram Profile Image

Julia, Sexologist Blog

Help us keep this blog going! We are here to educate you, give you the knowledge and content you need & want. If you have a special article request please contact us via email on depetrillojulia@gmail.com.

£5.00

Featured

Contraception

Hi Readers!

Did you know that without the use of contraception, 85 women in every 100 will get pregnant in 1 year. (UCL)

Contraception is a choice and a right. You need to choose the method that works best for you. We will go over multiple contraception choices in the article, but I highly suggest you speak to your doctor before making that choice, ensuring that the method you choose is appropriate for your body based on your medical history. 

You also need to remember that while most of these contraception methods help prevent pregnancy, they do not protect against STIs! Please be mindful of this. It is also suggested that you use these contraceptives in combination with the condom. 

Implant

Fewer than 1% of women will get pregnant in one year. (UCL)

The implant is a small piece of plastic that is put under the skin of the arm. It contains the hormone progestogen, which hormone is very similar to the oestrogen your body produces. It lasts for up to 3 years, but can be taken out at any time

Benefits:

  • It’s extremely good at preventing pregnancy
  • Very convenient; it doesn’t interrupt sex
  • Menstruation can be lighter and less frequent
  • It helps to make menstruation less painful
  • It can help you deal with pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS)
  • Often suitable for people who can’t take oestrogen

Risks:

  • A small injection of local anaesthetic is needed to put it under the skin
  • Irregular bleeding can be a nuisance (1 in 5 women) (UCL)
  • Some women get side effects like mood changes and changes in sex drive
  • No protection against STIs

IUS

Fewer than 1% of women will get pregnant in one year. (UCL)

The hormonal coil (IUS) is made of plastic and releases a small amount of progestogen. It is inserted into the womb by a doctor or nurse and lasts up to 5 years. The IUS can be a great help for heavy or painful periods. 

Benefits:

  • Lasts up to 5 years 
  • No need to remember pills or patches
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • It is extremely good at preventing pregnancy
  • Menstruation is usually lighter and less painful
  • It is a low level of a very safe hormone
  • Often suitable for people who can’t take oestrogen
  • It’s usually quick and easy to take out
  • Can help with pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS)

Risks:

  • The procedure can be painful
  • Some have irregular bleeding
  • The IUS can come out (1 in 20)
  • STI check needed before putting it in
  • No protection against STIs
  • Can cause mood changes, skin problems or breast tenderness

Rare risks:

  • Can go through the wall of the womb when it’s put in (fewer than 1 in 1000)
  • Pregnancy outside the womb (ectopic pregnancy) – possible but very rare

Copper Coil (IUD)

Fewer than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant in one year.

The Copper Coil (IUD) is made of plastic and copper. It’s put into the womb by a doctor or a nurse and lasts 5 to 10 years. The method is popular as it has no hormones

Benefits:

  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • It doesn’t contain hormones
  • No need to remember pills or patches
  • Lasts 5 to 10 years
  • It is usually quick and easy to take out
  • It is extremely good at preventing pregnancy
  • Almost all women can use the IUD (speak to your GP)

Risks:

  • Can make menstruation heavier and more painful
  • Having it fitted can be painful
  • The IUD can come out (1 in 20) 
  • STI check needed before putting it in
  • No protection against STIs

Rare risks:

  • IUD can go through the wall of the womb when it is put in (fewer than 1 in 1000)
  • Pregnancy outside the womb (ectopic pregnancy) – possible but rare

Injection

3 in 100 women can get pregnant in one year when using depo injections.

The injection (or depo) is given as an injection into the buttocks or thigh every three months. It contains a hormone called progestogen. It is long-lasting and convenient, it can stop periods temporarily 

Benefits:

  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • It helps to make periods lighter and less painful
  • Most women (7 in 10) have no periods
  • Often suitable for people who can’t take oestrogen
  • It’s extremely good at preventing pregnancy
  • It protects against cancer of the womb

Risks:

  • It’s an injection, which some people dislike
  • May cause irregular bleeding
  • Weight gain is fairly likely (3kg in 2 years)
  • Possible changes in mood and sex drive
  • Not suitable for someone who definitely wants a regular period
  • It can take several months to wear off
  • No protection against STIs

Combined Pill

8 in 100 women can get pregnant in one year while using the combined pill.

The combined pill (“the pill” as most people call it) is taken daily and usually with a week off, once a month, to allow menstruation to happen. It contains 2 hormones, which are similar to women’s own hormones. Easy to start and stop, but can be difficult to remember to take

Benefits:

  • Easy to take; one pill a day
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • The pill is good at preventing pregnancy
  • It helps to make menstruation lighter and less painful
  • Menstruation will usually be very regular
  • Easy to know and to control when menstruation will come
  • The pill can help with acne and spots
  • Some users notice enlargement of their breasts
  • It protects against womb and ovarian cancer
  • Protects against pelvic inflammatory disease

Risks:

  • Can be difficult to remember to take the pill
  • No protection against STIs

Possible side effects:

  • Spotting (bleeding in between periods)
  • Nausea
  • Sore breasts
  • Changes in mood or sex drive
  • Feeling more hungry
  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs (1 in 5,000 women)

Mini Pill 

8 in 100 women can get pregnant using the mini-pills.

The progestogen-only pill (mini-pill) is taken every day without any breaks. It contains a hormone which is very similar to one of the hormones produced by a woman’s body. It needs to be taken at the same time every day.

Benefits:

  • Easy to take; one pill a day, every day
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • It’s good at preventing pregnancy
  • Under the user’s control
  • It’s out of the system quickly once stopped
  • Often suitable for people who can’t take oestrogen
  • It can help with heavy or painful periods
  • It may mean that periods stop (temporarily)
  • Can be used when breastfeeding

Risks:

  • Can be difficult to remember 
  • No protection against STIs

Possible side effects:

  • Irregular bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Sore breasts 
  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in sex drive

Patch

8 in 100 women will get pregnant in one year while using patches.

The patch is a square sticker like a thin plaster. It contains 2 hormones (oestrogen and progestogen) which are very similar to women’s own hormones. The patch is changed once a week

Benefits:

  • Easy to use; change once a week
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • The patch is good at preventing pregnancy
  • It helps make periods lighter and less painful
  • Periods are usually very regular
  • Easy to know and control when a period will come
  • The patch can help with acne
  • Some users notice some enlargement of their breasts
  • It protects against womb & ovarian cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease

Risks:

  • It can be hard to remember when to change
  • No protection against STIs
  • Only available in a light colour making it visible on many women

Possible side effects:

  • Spotting (in between periods)
  • Nausea
  • Sore breasts
  • Changes in mood or sex drive
  • Increased appetite 
  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs (1 in 5,000) 

The Ring

9 in 100 women will get pregnant in a year while using vaginal rings

The vaginal ring is a soft plastic ring put in the vagina. It releases oestrogen and progestogen, which are similar to the women’s own hormones. The ring must be changed every 3 weeks with a week off

Benefits:

  • Easy to use; one ring lasts 3 weeks
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • The ring is good at preventing pregnancy
  • It helps to make periods lighter and less painful
  • Periods will usually be very regular
  • Easy to know and to control when a period will come
  • The ring can help acne
  • Some users notice some enlargement of their breasts
  • It protects against womb & ovarian cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease

Risks:

  • Need to remember to change it once a month
  • No protection against STIs

Possible side effect

  • Spotting 
  • Nausea
  • Sore breasts
  • Change in mood or sex drive
  • Feeling more hungry
  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs (1 in 5,000)

Condoms

15 in 100 women will get pregnant in one year when using a condom during sexual activity

There are two different types of condoms, male condoms that are worn on the penis and female condoms which are placed inside the vagina. Condoms are made from very thin latex, synthetic nitrile, polyisoprene or polyurethane and can be used for vaginal, oral and anal sex. For men, the size and fit of condoms are important so that they are comfortable and don’t break or slip off. That being said, condoms are very stretchy and can expand.

Benefits:

  • Easy to obtain; clinics provide them for free
  • Available without the need to see a doctor, nurse or healthcare professional 
  • Protect against STIs
  • Gives men and women control over whether and when to have a baby
  • They may it easier to clean up after sex

Risks:

  • Condoms can interrupt sex
  • Condoms may reduce pleasure for either or both parties
  • It can be difficult to ask men to wear condoms
  • Some men worry about condoms and erections
  • Condoms need some skill; knowing how to stop condoms breaking or slipping off

Diaphragm

16 in 100 women will get pregnant in one year while using the diaphragm.

Diaphragms and cervical caps are cups made of silicone. It is put at the top of the vagina, to cover the cervix (neck of the womb). It’s used with spermicide (a cream that kills sperm). It is necessary to check if it’s in the right place before sex

Benefits:

  • Most women can use a diaphragm or cap
  • They are hormone-free
  • They can be put in up to 3 hours before sex
  • They offer some protection against STIs
  • Can have sex more than once with a diaphragm or cap in place (with extra spermicide) 
  • Skin to skin contact

Risks:

  • Diaphragms and caps are less effective than other methods
  • Technique needs a bit of practice
  • Need to be put in before intercourse
  • They need to be left in for 6 hours after sex
  • The spermicide can be messy
  • Some spermicides can increase the risk of HIV transmission 

Fertility Awareness 

25 in 100 women will get pregnant in one year using natural methods.

Fertility Awareness (natural family planning) is a way of predicting ovulation to work out when pregnancy is more likely. This method involves recording signs of fertility such as body temperature, thickness of fluid in the vagina and calculating fertility from menstrual cycle dates. Fertility awareness can be very effective (with daily monitoring).

Benefits:

  • Non-hormonal method
  • There are no side effects
  • The method involves learning how the body works
  • Skin to skin contact
  • Acceptable in most religions and cultures
  • Can be useful when trying to become pregnant

Risks:

  • It can be tricky to learn and takes a few months to monitor patterns
  • May have a higher risk of pregnancy
  • Daily monitoring is needed (temperature, thickness of fluid in the vagina)
  • Illness, stress or travel can make it hard to interpret signs
  • Unprotected sex must be avoided on the most fertile days
  • No protection from STIs
  • To work best, it should be thought by a qualified fertility awareness teacher, nurse, GP

Withdrawal 

27 in 100 women will get pregnant in one year when using the withdrawal method.

The withdrawal method (pulling out) is when a man pulls out before he ejaculates.

Benefits:

  • No need to see a doctor, nurse or healthcare professional 
  • Free 
  • No hormones
  • Acceptable for women whose religion or culture forbids other methods

Risks:

  • Requires extreme self control and body awareness of the man
  • It’s not a very reliable way of preventing pregnancy
  • There can be small deposits of sperm before orgasm (ejaculation)
  • Some people find withdrawal unsatisfying for sexual pleasure
  • Difficult to do it every time

Now that I have peaked your curiosity in this subject, I strongly recommend you read on the different methods in more detail on public health websites (NHS, etc.) to learn more about side effects, how they work, etc. You should also consult your GP as some methods may not be the right fit for you depending on your medical history.

If you would like to make an appointment to discuss your decision making process and the side effects of these methods please email me at depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Instagram Profile Image

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

Featured

Reproductive Cycle

Hi Readers!

This week’s article is about the female reproductive cycle. There are 4 phases in the reproductive cycle. 

Menstruation Phase (approximately 1-7 days)

On the 1st day of the menstrual cycle, levels of the progesterone (hormone) drop significantly, which causes the uterine lining to shed – this is what people call “the period”. The average length of a period is between 3-7 days and happens every 28 days (4 weeks). During this week, your energy levels are at their lowest of the cycle.

This phase of the cycle is to eliminate the thickened lining of the uterus (endometrium) from the body through the vagina. This phase happens when you have not conceived and the lining that is expunged from the uterus is what would have been used as a cushion for the foetus.

The fluid contains blood, cells from the lining of the uterus and mucus. Use of sanitary pads or tampons during this time is to absorb the menstrual flow; these pads and tampons need to be changed regularly.

The Follicular Phase (circa days 8-14) 

There is some overlap between the follicular and menstruation phases. The follicular phase starts on the 1st day of your period and ends when you begin the ovulation phase. It is called the follicular phase because your pituitary gland (which is controlled by the hypothalamus) releases a hormone called follicle stimulation hormone (FSH). The gland stimulates the follicles, which contain the eggs, in your ovaries to mature. 

Once the pituitary gland releases FSH, the ovary is stimulated to produce around 5 to 20 follicles which come to the surface. Each of these follicles will house an immature egg. In most cases, only one follicle will develop into a mature egg whereas the others will die. The growth of the follicles stimulates the lining of the uterus to thicken in preparation for a possible pregnancy.

Oestrogen and testosterone start to rise during this phase, which can bring a boost of energy, improve mood, stimulate your libido and cause you to feel more extroverted while suppressing your appetite. 

Ovulation Phase (approximately days 15-21) 

The ovulatory phase occurs around days 15 to 21. That being said, ovulation itself only takes 15 minutes. The egg that is released is viable for fertilisation within 24 hours. 

Oestrogen and testosterone rise to peak levels, boosting the effects of the follicular phase. When oestrogen levels increase, the pituitary gland releases the Luteinising hormone (LH) and ovulation is in full force at this stage. 

Ovulation is triggered by the high levels of LH. The egg is funnelled into the fallopian tube and towards the uterus. The life span of the egg is only approximately 24 hours, unless it meets a sperm and conceives, it will die. 

Note, that as the production of cervical mucus increases in the days prior to the ovulation phase, it is possible to get pregnant from sex prior to the day of ovulation.

You may experience some of the following symptoms during the ovulation phase:

  • Thicker discharge
  • A rise in body temperature
  • Ovulation pain
  • Spotting
  • Spike in sex drive

The Luteal Phase (around day 22-28) 

The first couple of days of this phase will feel similar to the ovulatory phase. This last part of the cycle tends to be the longest. The luteal phase of the cycle can last up to 17 days. Levels of oestrogen and testosterone begin to decline and the body starts producing progesterone. The second half of this phase is very difficult for individuals who have a uterus. You may feel pre-menstrual syndromes like cravings, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, anxiety, moodiness, etc. 

During the ovulation phase, the egg bursts from the follicle, but the ruptured follicle stays on the surface of the ovary. For the following 2 weeks, the follicle transforms into a structure known as the corpus luteum. This will start releasing progesterone, along with small amounts of oestrogen. The combination of these hormones maintains the thickened lining of the uterus, waiting for the fertilised egg to stick (implant). If a fertilised egg implants in the lining of the uterus, it produces the hormones that are necessary to maintain the corpus luteum. This includes human chronic gonadotrophin (HCG), this is detected in a urine test for pregnancy. The corpus luteum keeps producing the raised levels of progesterone that are needed to maintain the thickened lining of the uterus. 

If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum withers and dies, usually around day 22 in a 28-day cycle. The drop in progesterone levels causes the lining of the uterus to fall away. This is when the menstruation starts and the cycle repeats itself. You may experience some premenstrual syndromes:

  • Bloating 
  • Breast swelling, pain and tenderness
  • Mood changes
  • Headache
  • Weight gain
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Food cravings
  • Difficulty sleeping

Hope this has helped you better understands the ins and outs of the 4 phases of the female reproductive cycle. 

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

Featured

Erogenous zones

Hi Readers! 

Last week we spoke about the Masters & Johnson sexual response cycle. In that article, I briefly mentioned erogenous zones and today we are going to talk about them!

What are erogenous zones? Do we all have them? How do I know what mine are? 

Erogenous zones are located all over the human body. They are an area of the body that has heightened sensitivity, which, when stimulated, may generate a sexual response: relaxation, the production of sexual fantasies, sexual arousal and orgasm. Sensitivity to each varies and depends on concentrations of nerve endings that can provide pleasurable sensations when stimulated.  Touching another person’s erogenous zone is an act of physical intimacy. Whether a person finds stimulation in these areas to be pleasurable or objectionable depends on a range of factors; level of arousal, the circumstances in which it takes place, cultural context, nature of the relationship between persons involved and personal history.

Spending time exploring your own body and that of your partner is a pleasurable way to discover exactly what turns you on sexually and what you really don’t like. 

When anyone talks about erogenous zones, people immediately think about the obvious body parts: breast, nipples, clitoris, penis. Yes, these are sexual areas that are more erogenous than other parts. But there are plenty of other erogenous zones, including but not limited to:

  • Eyelids
  • Eyebrows
  • Temples
  • Lips
  • Feet
  • Shoulders
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Hair
  • Abdominal
  • Navel
  • The brain

I challenge you to find out what yours and your partner’s are. This can be a great lockdown activity or if you have some downtime during the holidays, explore!

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

Featured

Sexual Response

Hi Readers! 

In this week’s article, I would like to explore the four-stage model of physiological responses to sexual stimulation by Masters and Johnson. The four stages are:

  1. Excitement phase, 
  2. Plateau phase, 
  3. Orgasmic phase
  4. Resolution phase

Excitement phase

The excitement phase is also known as the arousal or initial excitement phase. This is the first stage of the human sexual response cycle. This occurs as a result of physical and/or mental stimulus (kissing, touching, viewing or watching erotic videos and photos). In this phase, the body prepares for sexual intercourse. 

Every individual, every couple, has a different variation regarding preferences for the length of foreplay and the methods used to stimulate themselves or their partners. Physical and emotional interaction and stimulation of the erogenous zones during this phase usually establishes an initial arousal. 

What happens to the body? 

As erectile tissues in the pelvis, vulva and clitoris swells with blood, and nerves in the area become more sensitive to stimulation and pressure. 

The penis becomes partially or fully erect, often after only a few seconds of erotic stimulation. Both testicles become drawn upward toward the perineum and the scrotum can tense and thicken during the erection process. 

Plateau Phase

The plateau phase is the phase of sexual excitement prior to orgasm. This phase is characterised by increased circulation, an elevated heart rate, increased sexual pleasure with increased stimulation and further the muscle tension. Your respiration will continue at an elevated level. In some cases, if the time in the plateau phase is prolonged without progression to the orgasmic phase, it may result in frustration. 

What happens to the body?

The response of the excitement will intensify as the vagina becomes more sensitive and the glands of the clitoris retracts under the hood.

The testicles are drawn further into the scrotal sac and pre-seminal fluid from Cowper’s glands may be secreted by the penis. 

Orgasm Phase

The orgasm phase is the conclusion of the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle. This phase is the shortest of the 4, it usually only last a few seconds. During this phase, the muscles in the lower pelvis surrounding the anus and the sexual organs contract. Individuals with a uterus and vagina will also experience contractions in these areas. Orgasms are also associated with other involuntary actions, including vocalisations and muscular spasms in other areas of the body and some individuals get a euphoric sensation. The heart rate increases even further.  

What happens to the body?

With enough stimulation of or around the clitoris and for some, pressure on the cervix or other sensitive areas, a person with female genitalia may build up to a peak or orgasm. Contractions may be felt in the vagina, uterus and rectum. Some experience orgasm as a total-body contraction and release. 

In individuals with male genitalia, ejaculation/orgasm has 2 stages of autonomic response; in the first, the vas deferens, seminal vesicles and prostate trigger the urethral bulb to expand with seminal fluid, with internal sphincter contraction closing the bladder neck to prevent urine leakage. In the the second, the muscles surrounding the base of the penis contract, propelling semen externally. 

Resolution Phase

The Resolution phase occurs after orgasm and allows the muscles to relax, blood pressure to drop and the body to slow down from its excited state to the normal resting state of the individual. It can last from a few minutes to a half-hour or longer. This phase is usually longer for individuals with female genitalia than it is for individuals with male genitalia. The refractory period, which is part of the resolution phase, is the time frame in which an individual with male genitalia is unable to orgasm again, though individuals with female genitalia can also experience a refractory period. 

What happens to the body?

At this stage, the muscles relax and the clitoris, vagina and uterus return to their resting position. Blood pressure drops and respiration returns to the pre-arousal state. The erectile tissues return to normal. 

It is at this stage that the 2 sexes differ. Masters & Johnson explain and note that there is a greater refractory period in individuals with male genitalia, such that they are incapable of achieving an immediately successive orgasm. Individuals with female genitalia typically have a shorter refractory period, being capable of successive orgasms in a short period of time. 

Hope this article has expanded your knowledge on the different phases the body goes through during the sexual response. Stay tuned for next week’s article!!!!

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

Featured

Endometriosis

Hi Readers!

This weeks article is about endometriosis. Please note that this article is for anyone who has a uterus. This affects women who identify as women as well as trans* men.

This condition can affect individuals with a uterus of any age. 

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

It is a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on your life. This article will touch on the signs and symptoms, cause and treatments of endometriosis. 

How do I know if I have endometriosis?

Some women are severely affected, while others may not have any symptoms. The main symptoms of endometriosis are: 

  • Pain in your lower abdomen or back, usually worse during menstruations
  • Period pain that stops you doing your daily activities
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain when urinating or defecating during your period
  • Feeling sick, constipated, having diarrhoea or blood in your urine during your period (it is understandable if you cannot identify this correctly)
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Heavy menstruations, using lots of tampons or hygienic pads, possibly even bleeding through your clothes.                   

For some, endometriosis can have a big impact on their life and may sometimes lead to feelings of depression. 

When should you visit your GP?

It is important to go see your GP or a healthcare professional if the symptoms are having a big impact on your life. Be prepared when you see your GP; it always seems more difficult to remember everything you are going through when you are sitting in front of them. To help with this, Endometriosis UK created a diary for you to fill out.

It can be difficult to diagnose endometriosis because the symptoms can vary and be similar to other conditions. The GP will examine your lower abdomen and vagina. If your GP thinks you have endometriosis, they may prescribe some treatment. If these do not work, they will refer you to a gynaecologist, who will perform ultrasound scans and further investigate. 

What are the treatments for endometriosis?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that help ease the symptoms and manage the pain such as:

  • Painkillers (Ibuprofen and paracetamol – for my Canadian & American readers this is Tylenol, Motrin and Advil) 
  • Hormone medicines and contraceptives
  • Surgery to remove the patches of endometriosis tissue
  • Removal of part or all of the organs affected by endometriosis (hysterectomy)

Your doctor will discuss the options with you. Sometimes they may suggest not starting treatment immediately to see if your symptoms improve on their own.

What are the complications of endometriosis?

One of the main complications of this condition is difficulty getting pregnant or infertility.

There is a possibility of surgery to remove endometriosis tissue. This can improve the chances of getting pregnant. However, there are no guarantees that you will be able to get pregnant after treatment. Please be sure to speak to your surgeon about possible risks of this surgery. 

Living with endometriosis

Endometriosis affects women physically and emotionally. 

Endometriosis UK has a support group, a helpline (0808 808 2227) and an online community. 

Causes of endometriosis

Unfortunately, the cause of this condition is not known but there are several theories:

  • Genetics: this condition tends to run in the family and affects women of certain ethnic groups more than others
  • Retrograde menstruation: this is when the lining of the womb flows up through the fallopian tubes and embeds itself on the organs of the pelvis rather than leaving the body.
  • Problem with the immune system: the body’s natural defence against illness and infection
  • Endometrium cells spreading through the body in the blood or lymphatic system (a series of tubes and glands that form part of the immune system)

These theories do not fully explain endometriosis. It can be very frustrating for anyone not to have an answer to the question why this is happening? Where is this coming from?

The treatments that are offered for endometriosis, aim to ease the symptoms so they do not affect your day-to-day life. The treatments can be given to relive pain, slow the growth of endometriosis tissue, improve fertility or stop the condition returning. Before deciding which treatment is best for you, your gynaecologist will walk you trough the risks and benefits of each. There are things to consider when choosing your treatment; your age, are you trying to get pregnant, your feelings towards surgery and if you have tried any treatments before. 

If your symptoms are mild, you have no fertility issues or you are nearing menopause, it may not be necessary to have treatment. 

Sometimes endometriosis gets better on its own. Sometimes it can also get worse if it is not treated. This is why it is important to keep an eye on your symptoms and decide whether or not you want treatment if your symptoms do not improve and being to affect your daily activities. 

Fertility problems

Once again, it is not fully understood why it causes fertility problems but it is often suggested that it is due to the damage done to the fallopian tubes. Not all women with endometriosis will have problems getting pregnant, some will be able to get pregnant without treatment. 

Surgery sometimes helps as it removes the visible patches of endometriosis tissues but there is no guarantee that you will get pregnant. Some women and couples will decide to go down the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) route but if the women has moderate to severe endometriosis, they will have a lower chance of getting pregnant through this method. ( I have written an article about IVF treatment affects on your sexuality if you are interested.)

Adhesions and ovarian cysts

Some individuals with endometriosis will develop adhesions (sticky areas of endometriosis tissues that join organs together) or ovarian cysts (fluid filled growth in the ovaries that can sometimes become very large and painful). These can happen when the endometriosis tissue is in or near the ovaries. These can be treated with surgery, although there is a possibility these come back if the endometriosis returns. 

Bladder and bowel problems

If the endometriosis affects the bladder or the bowel, it can be difficult to treat and may require major surgery. You may be referred to a specialist. If it affects the bladder and you need surgery, this may involve cutting away part of the bladder. There is also a possibility of placing a catheter.

Please speak to your GP if you have symptoms or a family history. 

If you would like to arrange a counselling session around the effects it is having on your sexuality or self-esteem, please contact me to book an appointment.

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

Featured

Healthy Relationships

Hi Readers!

This week’s article is about healthy relationships. Now, more than ever, relationships are being put to the test; with extra stress, being homebound, being 24/7 with your partner and house-sharing.

Have you found yourself thinking about what is a healthy relationships, are you feeling like yourself in your relationships? 

So, what is a healthy relationship?

A healthy relationship is about showing mutual respect. There are 6 components of a healthy relationship, which are (in no particular order):

  1. Accountability: Admitting mistakes or when wrong, accepting responsibility for behaviours, attitudes & values.
  2. Safety: Refusing to intimidate or manipulate, respecting physical space, expressing yourself in a non-violent way.
  3. Honesty: Communicate openly and truthfully.
  4. Support: Supporting each others choices, being understanding, offering encouragement, listening non-judgementally, valuing the other’s opinions.
  5. Cooperation: Asking for something, not expecting it. Accepting change. Making decisions together. Willing to compromise. Win/Win solutions to conflict.
  6. Trust: Accepting each others word. Giving the benefit of the doubt.

Remember that in every relationship, you have rights as well as responsibilities.

YOUR RIGHTS YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
– Being treated as an equal
– Being respected
– Expressing your needs, emotions & feelings
– Having support
– Expressing different tastes, likes, opinions, ideas & dreams
– Having your own beliefs and values
– Having your own activities
– Seeing your family & friends
– Setting personal boundaries 
– Preserving your intimacy until YOU decide to share it
– Expressing your wants in a sexual relationship
– Saying NO to a sexual relationship
– Protecting yourself from an unwanted pregnancy and/or STI
– Feeling safe
– Ending the relationship
– Treating the other person as your equal
– Setting your limits
– Taking care of your wellbeing
– Listening to what the other person has to say
– Staying attentive to other’s needs
– Respecting the other person’s boundaries 
– Respecting other’s beliefs and values
– Supporting the other person
– Being respectful when resolving issues or a fight
– Sharing tasks, house chores, etc. 
– Maintaining your friends & family circle
– Keeping your intimacy and your personal space respected
– Being aware of your own safety & security 
– Getting help when you need it 
– Taking the necessary measures to protect yourself from an unwanted pregnancy and/or STI
– Expressing your needs, emotions & feelings

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

 

Featured

Documentaries, Tv Series, Movies & Books

Hi Readers! 

The holiday season is upon us. More time for relaxing and catching up on reading, TV series and movies. Why not take the opportunity to explore movies or documentaries on sexual health and diversity. 

Use this link for a 30 day free Amazon Prime Video to watch some of these movies and documentaries (FREE 30 day Amazon Prime) or click here for a 30 day FREE Audible *

Here are a few ideas for you and while I have not watched / read them all, they are all about sexual health and diversity – take this opportunity to explore and learn something new:

Documentaries:

  • There is an entire documentary series on Netflix called Explained. There is one on sex which include 5 episodes on: sexual fantasies, attraction, birth control, fertility and child birth.
  • The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson
  • Paris is burning
  • All in my family
  • Disclosure
  • Explained – series: episode about Female Orgasm

TV series:

  • Hollywood
  • POSE
  • Sex Education

Movies:

  • Born Beautiful
  • Breaking Free
  • Feminists. What are they thinking? 
  • A secret Love
  • Ma vie en Rose

Books:

If you have more suggestions, do let me know and I will add them to the list.

Be kind to one another! 

Julia, Sexologist

*: these are affiliate links, which means if you buy using that link, we will get a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that goes towards keeping our site running and providing you with educational content.

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

Featured

Intimacy

Hi Readers! 

This week’s article is about intimacy and alternatives to sexual intercourse. In a world so focused on penetration, its important to explore what is beyond that. I’m sure you can find something amazing. 

Everyone lives their sexuality and intimacy in their own way, whichever way suits them best, however they feel comfortable. 

What does intimacy mean to you? (Yes, you need to answer this question now.)

How do you define intimacy? (Yessss, you need to answer this question, too.)

The concept of intimacy is defined in different ways. Sometimes, we think of intimacy as two people having sexual intercourse. Intimacy can be defined by nudity or solo sexual practices, like masturbation. For some, intimacy only refers to the sexual organs. 

For others, intimacy encompasses emotional proximity, sharing, self-revelation and specific experiences related to intimacy. Intimacy is about well-being, confidence in connection with affection, perception and cognitive state before, during and after the exchange of intimacy. This is what I want you to think about and figure out (if you haven’t explored it yet). 

Intimacy is a close, familiar and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.

Sexuality is one of the core elements of what it is to be human. When we speak of sexuality, we speak of biological sex, sexual identity, sexual roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is also expressed with thoughts, fantasies, beliefs, relationships, roles, practices, behaviour, and desires. 

What are alternatives to intercourse? 

– Being physically close and intimate  

– Touching, stroking, oral sex

– Kissing

– Massaging

– Talking

– Holdings hands, holding each other 

– Taking a bath together 

– Using sex toys and other accessories 

Communicate with yourself and/or your partner about your needs, fears, worries, feelings, what you like and what you don’t like. You may feel a little nervous at the start the conversation, but that’s okay. Your partner may feel the same way. Figure it out together, learn together. 

In early 2021, we will be publishing an intimacy course that you will be able to purchase if you are interested in diving deeper into the subject intimacy. We will explore the components of intimacy and skills to better integrate intimacy into your relationships. 

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist 

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£7.00

Featured

WORLD AIDS DAY – DECEMBER 1st

Hi Readers!

Every year on December 1st is World AIDS Day. On this day, we remember those who have died from AIDS, we show up to support those living with HIV and we continue to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.

The objective is to end HIV by 2030! To do this the global community will need to once again defy expectations. Achieving the funding required to end the AIDS epidemic will require renewed commitment, innovative financing and an intensified strategic focus. 

We want everyone living with HIV to have access to treatment that will extend their life expectancy and improve their health. Investments will have to be made by each country, especially those with a high diagnosis rate. 

“Continued investments will be needed to build the capacity of health and community systems to reach the ambitious goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Importantly, quickening the pace of scaling up essential HIV treatment and prevention services will, in and of itself, result in substantial benefits to broader health systems. In addition to helping sustain the AIDS response, investments in HIV programmes will have the potential to transform national capacity to address other health priorities, such as noncommunicable diseases, maternal and child health, emerging diseases and outbreaks of infectious diseases.”UNAIDS

Reports from UNAIDS : The number of people living with HIV in 2030 could rise to 41.5 million if treatment and prevention services are kept constant at the 2013 level (current coverage). Conversely, if ambitious targets are met by 2020, the number of people living with HIV in 2030 would decline to 29.3 million. Much greater emphasis will be needed on community service delivery. According to recent consultations with countries and experts, 95% of HIV service delivery is currently facility based. 
To optimise efficiencies, UNAIDS projects that community-based service delivery will need to be ramped up to cover at least 30% of total service delivery. Not only will community service delivery reduce costs, but by bringing services closer to the people who need them, community service delivery will also improve service uptake.

To help raise awareness, in the next couple of weeks, you will find awareness videos to purchase in the shop section. These videos are great for teachers and parents who would like to raise awareness with teenagers and young adults, support group facilitators, community engagements workers please find activities related to HIV awareness on the shop page. 

Be kind to one another.

Julia, Sexologist

** We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health.
To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful. Paypal.me/juliasexologist

Featured

Cross-dressing

Hi Readers! 

This week’s article is about cross-dressing. This is a topic that society doesn’t tend to discuss about very often. This article is a response to a request from one of my readers. And since the aim of this website is education and discovery, why not discover cross-dressing and what it is. 

So, what is cross-dressing exactly? Does it mean a person is trans* if they cross-dress? Does it change your sexual orientation? Is it a fetish? Is it a disorder? So many questions!

If you haven’t read my articles about sexual orientation and gender identity, I suggest you do so before reading this article. The articles will allow you to get a better understanding of these terms before learning about cross-dressing. 

Cross-dressing is the act of wearing items of clothing that are not associated with the person’s gender. There is a history of cross-dressing; it was used as a disguise, for self-expression, comfort, etc. Back in the day, women authors would dress up as men so they could get their book published. Some women used to dress up as men just so that they could get an education. Cross-dressing exists in Greek, Norse and Hindu mythology. It is found in lots of literature and art. Ways that people choose to express gender may change over time, so some may notice that what they find in cross-dressing now may not apply to them in x months or years. 

Playing devil’s advocate here… I want you to think about something for a second. Society made the rules and created norms for each gender, what a “woman” is supposed to wear, what a “man” is suppose to wear. Yes, now fashion says it is sexy and in style for woman to wear an oversized jacket and heels or “boyfriend jeans”. But if a “man” decides to wear something feminine then it’s “not okay” or he is trans* and so on. 

Cross-dressers may experience social backlash as they are resisting social norms and expectations. 

Cross-dressing is more common in men than in woman. It is not a synonym of transgender. Most cross-dressers are heterosexual and no, cross-dressing does not change your sexual orientation. A person who cross-dresses can 100% identify with the sex and gender they are from birth but they have a want to dress-up with the opposite sex’s clothes because they like how it feels, how the fabric feels, how they look, etc. Cross-dressing often begins in childhood or adolescence. 

There are many different kinds of cross-dressing and different reasons why someone wants to cross-dress. Some cross-dress full time, some occasionally and some only cross-dress in private. 

Cross-dressing itself is NOT a disorder. To be diagnosed with transvestic disorder, according to the DSM-5, a person must experience persistent and intense sexual arousal from fantasising about, or acting on, urges to wear one or more pieces of clothing normally worn by the opposite gender. The fantasies and behaviours must have been present for at least 6 months and cause severe distress to the individual or dysfunction in social, professional or other significant areas of day-to-day life. The feelings of distress over cross-dressing that characterise transvestic disorder are separate and distinct from gender dysphoria. 

Since cross-dressing itself is not a disorder it does not generally require treatment. Cross-dressers may be brought to therapy by a third party (parent, partner, etc.). Some individuals who cross-dress seek therapy for themselves because of other issues that may come to the surface such as substance abuse, depression and distress. It is the distress and urges that impair day-to-day life that can be an issue for the individual not the act of cross-dressing. 

I hope this article has helped you to better understand cross-dressing. 

If you have any questions or would like to book a counselling session please contact me. 

Be kind to one another.

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£7.00

Featured

Parents of trans* children

Hi Readers!

In this week’s article I would like to focus on the needs of the parents of trans* children. We mostly focus on the child going through a transition and the impacts and effects it has on their lives – and rightly so! They are the ones that have to deal with a lot of opinions (which they did not ask for), looks, questions, etc. But we also need to think about the parents of these children. They too will get those looks, questions, opinions, etc. They also have needs and will want and need to be supported. 

If you have a friend or family member going through this transition, keep these tips in mind as your friend or relative might not be ready to speak to a Sexologist or Psychologist yet, but they will really appreciate your support. And if you, reader, are a parent of a trans* child, know that I am here for you.

When they’re ready, these parents will want to talk through the experiences and prejudices they are facing as they go through this journey with their child. Lend an ear. Listen to them, hear what they are saying. You will learn so much about what a parent and child are going through during this time. This may also be helpful if you want to be an ally and explain to others that are around this family how they can help rather than being judgmental. 

If you are not equipped with this information, you may want to help them find the information they need about trans*, the different terms, information and clarifications on the steps there child will be going through, deconstruct and demystify all the myths around trans*. In the UK, Mermaids has existed since 1995 to support trans and gender-diverse children.

Parents may want to have discussions with the school and other environments their child may come across to make sure it is a smooth transition and that it is a safe environment for their child. 

Parents of trans* children may feel a sense of guilt, questioning their parenting skills, etc. They will want to talk about their own feelings regarding this; people’s judgement, gaze, questions, concerns, etc. There will also be a stage when they will talk about their child’s future, how they see their child, etc. All you need to do is be supportive and listen. Be present! Show up for your friend or relative.

All parents react differently. In some cases, one of the two parents may be in complete shock and may not want to hear, participate or accept any of this and it can be an additional barrier for the parent and the child. 

When a child is going through a transition, the parents also have to deal with questions from family members and friends and they often find themselves explaining what’s going on repeatedly. This can be tiring and frustrating. So, if you are a family member or friend of parents of trans* children, please be respectful. Give them space. Let them know that you are there for them (if you are actually there for them and not just wanting information…) Just knowing that they have a support system will help a lot. 

There will be a grieving phase as they are losing a child and gaining another. Even though that child may still like the same things, have the same personality, it is not the child that they brought into the world. It is all part of the process. 

And don’t forget that even during all of this and while working through their own feelings, questions and emotions, they will have to support their child and be with them through their process. 

If you are a parent of a trans* child and would like to talk, please contact to set up an appointment. 

If you need any additional information, please contact me on depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

7.00 £

Featured

IVF treatments and the impact on your sexuality

Hi Readers!

Today, I would like to discuss the impacts In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) may have on your personal sexuality as well as your couple’s sexuality and intimacy. 

For those of you who may not know what IVF is or what in entails, here is a short summary. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is one of many techniques available to help individuals and couples with fertility challenges have a baby. In the laboratory, the medical team and technicians take an egg from the woman’s ovaries and fertilise it with sperm. Once the egg is fertilised (embryo), it is returned to the woman’s womb to grow and develop. This technique can be used with the eggs and sperm of the couple or person going through IVF or the eggs and/or sperm can be from a donor. 

There is some medication that needs to be taken with this process. Many women will have reactions to these. The side effects may include: (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ivf/risks/) (if you are going through this and these symptoms are persistent and worrying you, you should call your fertility clinic) 

– Hot flushes 

– Feeling down or irritable

– Headaches

– Restlessness

– Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (very brief explanation: excessive response to taking the medicines. Possible bloating, nausea, and swelling of the abdomen. When severe, blood clots, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, dehydration, and vomiting are possible. Deaths are rarely reported.)

So, you can imagine that if a woman is feeling any of these symptoms, she is probably not in the mood for sexual activity. Same goes for the partner who is going through this with her. While they are not going through the physical effects, they are supporting the woman and will be sympathetic towards her. Also, most of the time, the couple is so focused on making this work as they want to have a baby that this will probably have an effect on each of their individual sexualities. These processes and procedures take a lot of mental and physical space. If your fertility clinic offers counselling services, you should take them. You and your partner will be able talk about the changes that are happening mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually. It is a good idea to also speak to each other about how you are feeling; your fears, worries and good thoughts. Communication is key! 

This may seem easier said than done but it is in your benefit and your couple’s benefit to not let the stress and anxiety of wanting a baby to interfere with the areas of your lives that you have chosen to share, especially the intimacy that you share. Life gets very busy and some people get lost in the hustle and bustle. 

It can be fun and beneficial for you and/or your couple to set one day a week aside to talk, to do an activity or just reconnect with yourself and/or your partner. Having a Board Game night or trying new recipes, taking a bath together, going to a painting class, anything really. Just something that you love doing together (or alone) to reconnect and relieve the stress you are each feeling as you progress through this new chapter in your lives. 

Intimacy does not only mean sexual intercourse or any typical sexual activity. It is also the romance, the vulnerability, the communication, the tenderness, the peacefulness. I will be sure to write about intimacy in the weeks to come. 

I hope this has helped you understand this subject a little more. 

If you have any questions please contact me via email depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

Featured

Resources for victims of domestic violence

Hi Readers! 

As part of domestic violence awareness month, I wanted to list some resources for victims of domestic violence. 

United Kingdom

Organisations for women

  • National Domestic Abuse helpline

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is a freephone 24 hour helpline which provides advice and support to women and can refer them to emergency accommodation.The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is run by Refuge. (www.refuge.org.uk )www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk

  • Women’s Aid

The Women’s Aid website provides a wide range of resources to help women and young people. www.womensaid.org.uk

  • Rights of Women

Rights of Women offers confidential legal advice on domestic and sexual violence. www.rightsofwomen.org.uk

  • Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors (FLOWS)

FLOWS gives legal advice to women who are affected by domestic abuse – they also give advice to front line workers.https://www.rcjadvice.org.uk/family/flows-finding-legal-options-for-women-survivors/    

  • Southall Black Sisters

Southall Black Sisters provide advice for Black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women with issues including domestic abuse, forced marriage, immigration and homelessness.www.southallblacksisters.org.uk

Organisations for men

  • Respect – Men’s Advice Line

The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for all men experiencing domestic violence by a current or ex-partner. www.mensadviceline.org.uk

  • ManKind Initiative

Information and support on reporting incidents, police procedures, housing, benefits and injunctions. They can refer you to a refuge, local authority or other another support service if you need it. new.mankind.org.uk

  • SurvivorsUK

This is a helpline for men who have been victims of rape or sexual abuse www.survivorsuk.org

  • Everyman Project

National helpline which offers advice to anyone worried about their own, or someone else’s, violent or abusive behaviour. Website: www.everymanproject.co.uk.

Organisations for women and men

  • RCJ Advice Family Service

RCJ Advice Family Service can give legal advice to people who are affected by domestic abuse or need family law help – find out more on the RCJ Advice website.

  • Rape Crisis

The website has contact details for centres and gives basic information about rape and sexual violence for survivors, friends, family, students and professionals. Rape Crisis (England and Wales) also runs a freephone helpline. www.rapecrisis.org.uk

  • Honour Network Helpline

The Honour Network Helpline is a national helpline run by Karma Nirvana, a national charity which advises victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse. www.karmanirvana.org.uk

  • Action on Elder Abuse

Action on Elder Abuse gives confidential advice and information to older people who are victims of violence or abuse. The helpline can be used in the case of older people who live at home, in a care home or who are in hospital. www.elderabuse.org.uk

  • National Stalking Helpline

The National Stalking Helpline can provide advice on how to deal with any type of stalking behaviour. www.stalkinghelpline.org

  • Respect Phoneline

Offers information and advice to partners, friends and family who want to stop someone’s violent behaviour. www.respectphoneline.org.uk

Organisations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

  • National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline

Galop provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.  www.galop.org.uk/domesticabuse/

Organisations for disabled people

  • SignHealth – Domestic Abuse Service

SignHealth provides a specialist domestic abuse service to help Deaf people find safety and security. You can find out how to contact them on their website. www.signhealth.org.uk/with-deaf-people/domestic-abuse/domestic-abuse-service/

  • Respond

Respond work with children and adults with learning disabilities who’ve either experienced abuse or abused other people. www.respond.org.uk

CANADIAN RESOURCES

For Canadian resources, please visit https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/victims-victimes/vsd-rsv/agencies-agences.aspx  There is an interactive map. There are hundreds of resources for the entire country. You can search by province and city. 

Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information on our counselling and workshop services.

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

5.00 £

Featured

World Menopause Day – October 18th

Hi Readers!

If you follow Julia Sexologist on Instagram, you have already seen part of this article. I am adding the link and abstract of the White Paper the International Menopause Society published for the 2020 awareness day. Happy reading!

October 18th, 2020 is World Menopause Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of menopause and the support options available for improving health & wellbeing. This year’s theme is Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI).

POI happens when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40. Many women naturally experience reduced fertility when they are about 40 years old. They may start getting irregular menstrual cycles as they transition to menopause. Sometimes, it can start as early as adolescence. POI is different from premature menopause. The cause could be natural or because of a disease, surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. With POI, some women still have occasional periods. They may even get pregnant. In most instances of POI, the cause is unknown.

The International Menopause Society has publishes a White Paper. The following is the Abstract of the White Paper: 

The aim of this International Menopause Society White paper on Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) is to provide the latest information regarding this distressing condition. The impact of POI has far-reaching consequences due to its impact on general, psychological and sexual quality of life, fertility prospects and long-term bone, cardiovascular and cognitive health. Progress in fully understanding the etiology, diagnosis and optimal management options has been slow thus far due to the complexity of the condition and fragmented research. Recent advances in epidemiological and genetic research have improved our understanding of this condition and randomized prospective trials are being planned to determine the intervention strategies, which will optimize quality of life and long-term well- being. The International Menopause Society has commissioned a number of experts at the forefront of their specialty to define the state of the art in the understanding of this condition, to advise on practical management strategies and to propose future research strategies. It is hoped that a global task force will subsequently be convened in order to formulate a consensus statement across key societies, to accelerate date collection and analysis of a global POI registry, and to facilitate progress in the key defined areas of research.

Read more here.

For more information on World Menopause Day, visit https://www.imsociety.org/index.php 

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

5.00 £

Featured

Asexuality

Hi Readers!

Today’s blog post is about a specific sexual orientation: asexuality. Yes, asexuality is a sexual orientation just like homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, etc. You may have heard people talk about someone being asexual or someone telling you that they are asexual and not knowing how to react, or not knowing what it means or maybe you had never heard the word before.

First, it’s okay not to know something – we learn something everyday. It’s okay to ask someone to explain it to you (just ask respectfully, please!).

Second, if you were too shy to ask for an explanation – do not fear, I am here! This post will explain what asexuality means. I would also like to refer you to a book I read a few years ago called  The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker. You can by it on Amazon or in your favourite bookstores. It is a really great book for those of you who are interested in knowing more. The author explains it through her experiences but also presents the facts about asexuality. I though it was a great book to give you… wait for it… as an introduction to asexuality! 

Approximately 1% of the population is asexual, though many experts think that the number may be higher.

Asexuality is defined as limited or no sexual attraction, interest or desire. An asexual person is someone who is not sexually attracted to anyone. This does not mean that asexual people are not romantic, do not fall in love or do not want to be touched. Asexuals can be romantically attracted to other people, be in relationships, be intimate with someone or be intimate with themselves and/or want to masturbate. Asexuals may be in a relationship and may not ask or want to have a sexual relationship, but they may chose to do so in order to please their partner. Just like sexual people, asexual people are all different; they have their likes and dislikes and have their own levels of comfort.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of awareness concerning asexuality and this has an effect on asexual people as they may feel left out, misunderstood and hurt. Bottom line, be kind to one another, do your research, all the information is at the tip of your fingers.

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

What is Your Communication Style?

Hi Readers!

This week’s article is about the styles of communication. The holidays are on their way. This means more time spent in groups and in conversation. This article will help you identify the 4 types of communicators and will also give you an insight into which is the one we should all strive to be. 

The Passive Person

This type of communicator avoids the expression of opinion or feelings, protecting one’s rights, and identity and meeting one’s needs. Passive people exhibit poor eye contact and slumped body posture and tend to speak softly or apologetically. Passive people express statements implying that: “I’m unable to stand up for my right”, “I don’t know what my rights are”, “I get stepped on”, “I’m weak and unable to take care of myself”, “people never consider my feelings”.

The Aggressive Person

This person communicates in a way that violates the rights of others. These communicators are verbally or physically abusive, or both. This is born from low self-esteem, often caused by past physical or emotional abuse, unhealed emotional wounds, and feelings of powerlessness. Aggressive people display a low tolerance for frustration, use humiliation, interrupt frequently and use criticism or blame to attack others. They use piercing eye contact and are not good listeners. Their express statements imply that: “The other person is inferior, wrong and not worth anything”, “The problem is the person’s fault”, “They are superior and right”, “They are entitled and the other person ‘owes’ them”, “They will get their way regardless”. 

The Passive Aggressive Person

This communicator uses a communicator style in which the individual appears passive on the surface, but is really acting out of anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind the scenes way. Usually they feel powerless, stuck and resentful. Alienated from others, they feel incapable of dealing directly with the object of their resentments. Rather, they express their anger by subtly undermining the real or imagined object of their resentments. Frequently they mutter to themselves instead of confronting another person. They often smile at you, even though they are angry, they use subtle sabotage or speak with sarcasm. Their statements imply: “I’m weak and resentful so I sabotage, frustrate and disrupt”, “I appear cooperative, but I am not”. 

The Assertive communicator

This is the ideal communicator to be. This person communicates in a way that clearly states their opinions and feelings and firmly advocates for their rights and needs without violating the rights of others. This is born from the individual’s high self-esteem. Assertive people value themselves, their time and their emotional, spiritual and physical needs. They are strong advocates for themselves while being very respectful of the rights of others.

Assertive people feel connected to other people. They make statements about their needs and feelings clearly, appropriately and respectfully. Feeling in control of themselves, they speak in calm and clear tones, are good listeners and maintain good eye contact. They create a respectful environment for others and do not allow others to abuse or manipulate them. Their statements imply: “I am confident about who I am”, “ I cannot control others, but I can control myself”, “I speak clearly, honestly and to the point”, “I know I have choices in my life, and I consider my options. I am fully responsible for my own happiness”, “we are equally entitled to express ourselves respectfully to one another”. 

To become an assertive communicator, you need to be confident and have good self-esteem. If you need and want to learn more, check out our articles about confidence, self-esteem and purchase our Guide to Self-Love e-book.

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist.

What you Should Know about Desire

Hi Readers!

Have you heard about the two ways one can start to feel desire? Many of us will have experiences where we felt both of these. That being said, some people feel more aligned to one than the other. 

So…what are the two ways to feel desire? In no particular order:

Spontaneous desire

This is when you feel sexy without external stimulus. It’s less about the environment being explicitly sexy; it can feel like your desire came from nowhere, spontaneously.

Responsive desire

This is when you begin to feel sexy only after some of the things that turn you on start to happen. This can be a physical touch, a change in environment, etc.

Culturally, and thanks to our friend Hollywood, there is way more emphasis on spontaneous desire. Guess what?? It doesn’t happen like the movies and TV series, AND. THAT. IS. OKAY. 

Many situations, environment, life events impact our desire such as parenting, mental and physical health, trauma, stress… I’m sure you can continue this list. 

By not taking these circumstances into consideration, we end up putting too much pressure on ourselves / our couples and are not conscious that these factors play a big role in our desire. 

Desire doesn’t have to be 0 to 100. There are another 99 numbers in between. 

Be kind to one another. Be kind to yourself. 

Julia, Sexologist

“It’s time to move on from thinking of sex as a drive”

Hi Readers! 

I have been reading the book Sex Ed, A Guide for Adults by Ruby Rare. Check it out! It’s worth a read! 

The author brings a great perspective about sex drive, or what people call sex drive. Ruby says that sex is a motivational system and that we are drawn to sex because it’s fun, enjoyable, and pleasurable. We are not biologically driven to it to keep us alive the way we are with food and water. 

“To my knowledge, no one has died of horniness” – Ruby Rare

I like the perspective she brings to the table. By seeing sex as a ‘drive’ it implies that humans need it day-to-day to survive. This is not the case. Sex should only happen consensually and when people are in the right headspace. 

Ruby showcases a dual control model that was developed in the ‘90s by Eric Janseen and John Bancroft at the Kinsey Institute. It is about what physically happens to our bodies when we get turned on. This model is made up of 2 systems.

The accelerator

The excited one. Whenever the accelerator picks up something sexy, be that a thought or something happening in the real world, it sends signals from the brain to the genitals telling them it’s ON.

The brake

The inhibited one. This sounds negative, but it’s actually incredibly important. Your brake is working most of the time, noticing all the things around us that are unsexy, be that danger, risk, discomfort, or an inappropriate setting.

Sex isn’t as simple as driving. You cannot simply turn something on or off. As much as the sexy things need to be turned on, the not-so-sexy things need to be turned off. 

Be kind to one another, 

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Violence in romantic and intimate relationships between men

Physical, psychological, economic, verbal, and sexual violence in romantic and intimate relationships between men.

Hi Readers!

I wanted to share with you a training day I attended a few years ago run by REZO, a Quebec, Canada-based charity. They were running a project called VRAIH (which is a play on words VRAI, which means TRUE in french. Violence dans les Relations Amoureuses et Intimes entre Hommes)

Before we dive into the facts and study findings from VRAIH, here are 2 questions to test your knowledge:

1- True or False?

Violence in a romantic and intimate relationship between men doesn’t exist.

Answer: FALSE – In fact, there is more violence in a homosexual relationship than in a heterosexual relationship. It was found that this is the 3rd most prevalent problem after HIV and drug & alcohol consumption in the gay community. 

2- True or False?

Violence in intimate relationships is the same for homosexuals as it is for heterosexuals.

Answer: true & false – let me explain: 

The type of violence is the same; physical, psychological, economic, verbal, sexual, etc. But the way it manifests is different. For example, if two people, who identify as men in a romantic relationship, are in a fight it may be portrayed or interpreted as a fight between friends or roommates and not be escalated or handled in the same way as a fight between a couple by observers and sometimes even the police. 

Different forms of violence

The below are some of the ways the different forms of violence may manifest themselves:

  • Economic violence: the charity was explaining that it is often seen in a relationship where one man is older and wealthier than the other that money is used as a way of controlling the other person – this is also a form of domestic violence. 
  • Verbal: using homophobic words towards one another.
  • Psychological: 8 times out of 10, there are threats about ‘outing’ someone to friends and family.
  • Physical: different types of aggressive acts to ‘correct’ the way the other acts 
  • Internalized violence: the feeling of discomfort and self-disgust.
  • Sexual: sexual practices or touching that is not desired or wanted.
Intersection

There is also another dimension to add; intersection.

This is where a person’s sexual orientation crosses with another element/aspect of their life: 

  • It can be sexual orientation and ethnicity; therefore add on racism
  • It can be sexual orientation and serological status; HIV and phobic acts against people living with HIV 
  • Sexual orientation and transition journey; transphobic. Unfortunately, there is a lot of sexual violence against trans* people.

I hope this information gives you the courage to speak to the police or call your local domestic violence charity if you see something that doesn’t seem right or if someone confides in you.

Human relationships may be complex, but violence has no part in them.

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Join the Sex-Positive Movement

Hi Readers!

Have you ever thought about being sex-positive or wondered if you already are? 

Do you believe consensual sex is a healthy part of life, and that we have the right to experience pleasure how and when we choose to? 

Do you believe everyone has the right to access inclusive sex education and sexual health services? 

Do you support others’ sexual desires and practices, even if they differ from yours, provided they are done safely and consensually? 

Do you believe we each have the right to take ownership of our bodies and sexual choices? 

Are you committed to having a healthy attitude towards sex, even if you don’t feel 100% there yet?

If you answered yes to all these questions, you have a sex-positive mindset! Whoop whoop!

A sex-positive mindset is about encouraging yourself and others to enjoy their sexuality. This involves a lot of conversation about pleasure but also fighting for better education and access to services for ALL. Unfortunately, there is still so much inequality and injustice around sex and we still have lots of work to do. It’s about recognising the challenges and feeling confident to ask for support to face them. Remember that this is a gradual process, it doesn’t happen overnight.

This concept is not new. Reich brought this up in the 1920s and it really emerged in the 1960s with birth control & women’s sexual autonomy. This revolution was happening at the same time as the rise of gay rights, feminism, and civil rights. 

It has been slowly growing since then, but it in the last decade or so it skyrocketed. What happened about a decade ago? Social media! It is a great tool for education – it just needs to be used properly. That being said, these social platforms are not sex-positive as they treat these subjects and concepts as “sensitive subjects” and censor them.

The point is, sex positivity is not about having loads of sex or not having any boundaries, it’s about raising awareness and de-stigmatising what social media and society have created around sex and the taboos; people are more comfortable talking about their finances than they are talking about sexuality which is at the center of humanity. Think about that for a second. 

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

 

paypal.me/juliasexologist

Understanding the Concept of Sexual Currency

Hi Readers!

I recently read the book Mind the Gap by Dr Karen Gurney wherein she introduced me to the concept of sexual currency. I thought it would be of interest to my readers to learn more about this concept. This concept describes the way stimulating, non-genital touching within romantic relationships helps us relate to our partners as sexual beings. This plays a big part in relationship satisfaction. 

Dr. Gurney explains that sexual currency is the sex science terminology used to refer to the use of sex as a bargaining tool or the relative value of a person’s sexuality. 

In the early stages of a relationship, sexual currency is typically [at] extremely high levels. Couples spend large amounts of time kissing, making intense eye contact, hand-holding, complimenting, touching, giving affirmations about desire, flirting, being suggestive by looks, comments, texts and emails and being physically close. 

As Dr. Gurney explains, sexual currency differs from physical affection as the touches have an erotic feel. Sexual currency is about attraction and desire whereas physical affection can be had with family & friends, i.e. a hug. 

As relationships become more established, we generally settle into other, more sustainable ways to co-exist, as well as new habits. After the first flush of lust, the intensity of those early feelings subside to pave the way for less obsessive and maddening feelings. 
Sexual currency is about the culture of our relationship, and what’s good about culture is that it is fluid and shifting, depending on how the people within it act. If you are reading this and realizing that you and your partner only ever passionately kiss as part of sex, and never at any other time, or some other aspect of relating to each other mainly as flatmates or co-parents rings true, then the important thing is that you can create a change in this culture easily by starting to do something differently.

If you are seeking to restore, maintain or improve your sexual currency with your partner, you can find our workbook here

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

What You Need to Know about Miscarriage

Hi Readers,

This week’s topic is miscarriages. This is a topic that we don’t particularly talk about even though miscarriages are much more common than most people realise. Among individuals that know they are pregnant, 1 in 8 pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. 

The NHS states that there are many more miscarriages that happen before a person is even aware of their pregnancy. While losing 3 or more pregnancies in a row is uncommon, it may affect up to 1 in 100 people.

Preventing a miscarriage

Most miscarriages cannot be prevented. That being said, avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs while pregnant while maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of a miscarriage. 

Causes of a miscarriage

There are many reasons why miscarriages happen. Unfortunately, the cause is not usually identified. Most of the time, miscarriages are not caused by anything the person has done. 

Some researchers think that most miscarriages are caused by abnormal chromosomes in the baby. If the baby has too many or not enough chromosomes, it will not develop properly. 

Symptoms of a miscarriage

The main sign of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, which may be followed by cramping and pain in the lower abdomen. *if this happens to you, please contact your GP or your midwife*

Most GPs can refer you to an early pregnancy unit at your local hospital straight away, if necessary. If the pregnancy is at a later stage, the person will be referred to a maternity ward. 

Be aware that in the first 3 months of the pregnancy, light vaginal bleeding is relatively common. This does not necessarily mean that there will be or has been a miscarriage. 

If symptoms of a miscarriage are present, the person will be referred to the hospital for tests and an ultrasound scan.

If a miscarriage is confirmed, the person will need to speak to their doctor or midwife to manage the end of their pregnancy. Tissues will usually pass naturally in 1-2 weeks. Other options include the medicine option to assist the passage of the tissue or minor surgery to help remove the tissues if the person does not want to wait.

Post miscarriage

A miscarriage can be emotionally and physically draining. Every person is different and will deal with it differently. 

Once the symptoms are no longer present and the person is ready, they can begin to try getting pregnant again. 

Having a miscarriage does not mean that it will happen again. The NHS states that most people are able to have a healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage, even in cases of recurrent miscarriages. 

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist.

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Using Mindfulness to Connect with your Body and Sexual Desire

Hi Readers!

Some of you may know about sensate focus which is about touching and being touched. You can maximize the potential of sensate focus by beginning without any preconceived notions of what you may experience, feel, or how much pleasure it will produce. While using this practice, begin with an open mind, so as not to cloud your judgment about this experience and your feelings.

This practice allows you to be mindful of every touch and feeling you experience. It allows you to feel more connected with yourself and your partner. Becoming in tune with our bodies and thoughts is a great way of turning our attention towards sexual thoughts and feelings and away from distractions.

Practicing mindfulness can create sensations of arousal and desire in people who previously felt completely cut off from their sexual selves. 

The benefit of practicing meditation and then bringing those skills into your everyday life, including your sex life, may allow you to learn to be more present in the moment and enjoy a more meaningful and enjoyable connection with your partner. It may help you let go of distractions and become more aware of your own body and your partner’s.

There are plenty of resources that can help you begin your meditation and mindfulness journey, such as Headspace. 

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

The Impact of Eating Disorders on your Sex Life

Hi Readers, 

Eating disorders can cause a host of issues that may affect every part of your life. One area that is rarely spoken about when discussing eating disorders is sexuality.

For many people with eating disorders, sex is an issue. Low sex drive, lack of self-confidence, and a fear of intimacy can severely impact their sex life. 

Intimacy is usually seen as an indicator of a healthy relationship. However, with someone having an eating disorder, it’s often viewed as a frightening closeness that puts barriers between the person who has an eating disorder and their partner.

People with an eating disorder will naturally display a negative attitude towards sex; they will have more sexual anxiety and reduced sexual satisfaction. This is true for any sex or gendered person who has an eating disorder.

When a person has an eating disorder, sexual dysfunction is a very common side effect. The physiological complications associated with eating disorders are just the tip of the iceberg.

The core features that lie at the heart of an eating disorder; distorted body image, body dissatisfaction, and shame, all inhibit a healthy sexual function, too. 

In many cases, having a sex aversion isn’t always about the physiological barriers, it’s about the psychological ones, too and these negative self-images make it difficult to have sex. If you are uncomfortable with the way you look, engaging sexually is embarrassing and challenging.

If you are someone with an eating disorder, please speak to your GP / healthcare professional, a Psychologist, or a Sexologist. 

My workbook on self-love is one way to help you with your self-image and self-confidence. 

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

What is Sexual Script Theory

Hi Readers!

Do you know what Sexual Scripts are? 

The Sexual Script Theory describes the way in which societal and cultural expectations around sex shape our behaviours and interactions by providing us with clear expectations and boundaries to adhere to. Sexual Scripts are ideas of how males and females are supposed to interact with each other, including how each gender should behave in sexual or romantic situations. A sexual script is a mental story detailing specific events and assigning certain roles (parts that each actor plays in the story; like a movie or TV series).  

These expectations are very gendered and shaped by the media, language, and interactions we have with others. 

Sexual Script Theory is the playing out of social psychology in our sex lives. Although the word ‘script’ implies that these ideas are explicit – and they can be at times in the language we use – they are often implicit, alluded to by stories in the media, folklore, and social convention. 

Below are just a few of the most common sexual scripts in the Western world (Mind the Gap by Dr Karen Gurney):

  • Men are sexual subjects with desires to be acted on and women are sexual objects who gain gratification from being desired
  • Heterosexual sex ends when men ejaculate
  • Women are more motivated by relationship intimacy and closeness in sex than pleasure. 
  • Women’s orgasms are more challenging to achieve than men’s
  • Men show masculinity through high desire and having many partners and women show femininity by sexual restraint
  • Penetrative vaginal sex is the most important sexual act in heterosexual sex

It is important to be conscious of these societal and cultural factors as they can limit/constrain what we believe is possible or acceptable in a relationship. Instead, listen to your mind & body and be open to a world of possibilities that exist to increase the enjoyment of sex and experience of desire. Sex can be whatever you want as long as it is consensual and respectful.

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.