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 though 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

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 cause by anything the person has done. 

Some researches 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 a 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.

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 maximise 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 judgement 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 every day 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

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 on their sex life. 

Intimacy is usually seen as an indicator of a healthy relationship. However, with someone has an eating disorder, it’s often viewed as a frightening closeness which 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 makes 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

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 world of possibilities that exists 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

World Breastfeeding Week

Hi Readers,

World Breastfeeding Week 2021 (August 1st to 7th) focuses on how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all, and the imperative to protect breastfeeding worldwide.

The objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2021 are:

  • Inform: people about the importance of protecting breastfeeding
  • Anchor: breastfeeding support as a vital public health responsibility
  • Engage: with individuals and organisations for greater impact
  • Galvanise: action on protecting breastfeeding to improve public health

You can read last year’s article here for more information 

You can also visit the WBW website for campaign materials and for more information on how to take action.

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

World Hepatitis Day

Hi Readers!

Every year, on July 28th, World Hepatitis Day is observed to raise awareness of viral hepatitis.

To learn more about Hepatitis, please read last year’s article for all the facts and figures. This year’s theme is Hepatitis Can’t Wait. 

What are the key messages of the Hepatitis Can’t Wait campaign?

Messages for the public:
  • People living with hepatitis can’t wait for life saving treatments. 
  • Hepatitis B testing and treatment for pregnant women can’t wait. We can prevent transmission from mothers to their babies.
  • Newborn babies can’t wait for their hepatitis B vaccination at birth.
  • People affected by hepatitis can’t wait to be protected against stigma and discrimination.
  • Community organisations can’t wait for greater investment.
  • Decision makers can’t wait and must act now to make hepatitis elimination a reality through political will and funding.
Messages for policy makers:
  • Integration of viral hepatitis elimination with other health services can’t wait.
  • Funding hepatitis care can’t wait
  • Triple elimination of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, hepatitis and syphilis can’t wait
  • Validating hepatitis elimination efforts in countries can’t wait.
  • Universal health coverage for all people with hepatitis can’t wait. Starting now means saving lives.
Messages for National leaders:
  • Setting national hepatitis elimination targets can’t wait. A world without viral hepatitis by 2030 starts with your country.
  • Caring for the most vulnerable people with hepatitis can’t wait. Be it young people who inject drugs, some people are more exposed and at risk – their lives matter. 
  • Scaling up of essential hepatitis services can’t wait.
  • Engaging communities in hepatitis services can’t wait.
  • Decision makers can’t wait and must act now to make hepatitis elimination a reality through political will and funding.

You can visit the WHO website to take part the campaign.

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist

 

Appreciating all the content? You can help keep this blog going by clicking here

C is for Clitoris

Hi Readers!

For women, non-binairy people and trans people with clitorises, the clitoris is a key source of pleasure; it contains corresponding structures and nerve pathways to the penis, in that it fills with blood on arousal and it is a source of sexual pleasure when stimulated. The clitoris is the pleasure centre of the vulva. It doesn’t have a central role in reproduction like the penis or vagina. The clitoris’ sole purpose is to give pleasure.  

It is often not a part of typical female anatomy that we are particularly familiar with or learn about when we are younger and are being taught in school. The clitoris is right under the point where the inner labia meet and form a ‘hood’. What you see under this hood, roughly the size of a green pea, is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Fun fact!

The clitoris extends about 9cm in length and 6cm in width underneath the skin. The rest of its spongy shaft divides into two ‘legs’ that reach more than 12.7cm inside the person’s body.

That being said, the external part of the clitoris, the glans clitoris, as well as the clitoral hood, can vary from person to person in look, shape, colour and size, just like the penis.

 The full structure looks like this:

I hope this has given you some insight on this subject. 

Have fun with it!

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

What you need to know about neonatal herpes

Hi Readers!

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 14,000 cases of neonatal herpes annually (based on data from 2010-2015), roughly 10 cases per 100,000 live births worldwide. 

Neonatal herpes is a rare complication of genital herpes during pregnancy, which can cause brain damage, breathing problems, seizures and even death. The infection can occur when an infant is exposed to herpes simplex virus types 1 or 2 in a woman’s genital tract during birth.

The younger the baby, the more vulnerable they are to the harmful effects of infection, as their immune system will not have fully developed to fight off the virus. A baby is most at risk of getting herpes infection in the first 4 weeks after birth.  

How does a newborn contract herpes?

A baby can contract the virus during pregnancy or during labour. The newborn is at risk if the mother had genital herpes for the first time within the last 6 weeks of her pregnancy. That being said, the risk is lower if the mother has had genital herpes prior to the pregnancy. There is a risk of transmission if the mother has a vaginal delivery. 

The herpes simplex virus can be passed to a baby after birth if any person with a cold sore kisses the baby. Therefore, if you have a cold sore do not kiss a baby, or anyone else for that matter – and do not perform oral sex on your partner. Cold sores and blisters caused by herpes virus are most contagious when they burst. They remain contagious until completely healed. The virus can also be contracted by a baby if the mother has a herpes blister on her breast and she feeds the baby with the affected breast or pumped breast milk from her affected breast.  

What to look out for

As mentioned above, newborns have an undeveloped immune system and can quickly become ill after contracting the virus. Call your healthcare professional as soon as you notice the following early warning signs in your baby:

  • is lethargic or irritable
  • Is not feeding
  • Has a high temperature (fever)
  • Has a rash or sores on the skin, eyes and inside the mouth
Call your country’s emergency line immediately if your baby:
  • is lacking energy 
  • Is becoming floppy and unresponsive
  • Is difficult to wake up from sleep
  • Has breathing difficulties or starts grunting
  • Breathes rapidly
  • Has a blue tongue and skin (cyanosis)

Babies can become unwell very quickly, so you ned to act fast. 

Treatment for neonatal herpes

Neonatal herpes is usually treated with antiviral drugs given intravenously. This treatment can last several weeks. Any related complications will also need to be treated. 

The baby can be breastfed while receiving treatment, unless the mother has herpes sores around her nipples. If the mother is on antiviral treatment, this can be found in her breast milk, but it has not been proven to be harmful to the baby. It is important to discuss this with your healthcare professional.  

Neonatal herpes prevention

If you are pregnant and have a history of genital herpes, tell your healthcare professional. You may need to take medication during the last month of pregnancy to prevent an outbreak of vaginal sores during labour. 

A caesarean is recommended if the genital herpes has occurred for the first time in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy.

If you develop a cold sore or have any signs of a herpes infection, take the following precaution and please continue to do so until the sore has fully recovered (some of these precautions are taken from the NHS website): 

  • Do not kiss any babies
  • Do not kiss anyone or give oral sex
  • Wash your hands before contact with a baby
  • Wash your hands before breastfeeding
  • Cover up any cold sores, lesions or signs of a herpes infection anywhere on your body to avoid passing on the virus. 

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

Things you most probably didn’t know about premature ejaculation

Hi Readers!

This week’s article is about premature ejaculation. 

There are psychological and physical causes for premature ejaculation. It is important to speak to your doctor first to investigate any physical conditions. The doctor may then refer you to a sex therapist/Sexologist to help with the psychological aspect.

The NHS quotes a study involving 500 couples that found that the average time for ejaculation was about 5 1/2 minutes after starting sex. This time could be longer for men who have sex with men. The NHS states that international guidelines define premature ejaculation as regularly ejaculating within 1 minute of entering your partner. 

That being said, each couple is different and each couple ‘decides’ if this is okay for them or is cause for an issue. If this is the case for you and/or your couple, you should speak to your doctor or make an appointment with a counsellor who specialises in sexual health.

If you want to consider medication or creams please speak to your GP or Pharmacist.

In the meantime, here are some tools and exercises that you can try:

  • use a thick condom to help decrease sensation
  • take a deep breath to briefly shut down the ejaculatory reflex (an automatic reflex of the body during which ejaculation occurs)
  • have sex with your partner on top (to allow them to pull away when you are close to ejaculating)
  • take breaks during sex and think about something that diverts your mind from sexual activity

Exercises to do as a couple:

– In the “squeeze technique”, your partner masturbates you, but stops before the point of ejaculation and squeezes the head of your penis for between 10-20 seconds. They then let go and wait for another 30 seconds before resuming masturbation. This process is carried out several times before ejaculation is allowed to occur.

– The Stop-go technique is similar, but your partner does not squeeze your penis. Once you feel more confident about delaying ejaculation, you and your partner can begin to have sex, stopping and starting as required.

These techniques may sound simple, but they require lots of practice.

You can also try pelvic floor exercises Weak pelvic floor muscles might impair your ability to delay ejaculation. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) can help strengthen these muscles.

To perform these exercises:

  • Find the right muscles: To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream or tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas. These manoeuvres use your pelvic floor muscles. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easier to do them lying down at first.
  • Perfect your technique: Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for three seconds, and then relax for three seconds. Try it a few times in a row. When your muscles get stronger, try doing Kegel exercises while sitting, standing or walking.
  • Maintain your focus: For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
  • Repeat 3 times a day: Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.

I hope this has given you some insight into premature ejaculation.

Be kind to one another,

Julia, Sexologist