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

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

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

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

 

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C is for Clitoris

Hi Readers!

For women, non-binary 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 center 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

 

Help us keep our blog going. It means the world to us to know we can help people all over the world to improve, maintain or restore their sexual health.

 

For further reading click here. 

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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 the 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 need 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 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

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

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 maneuvers 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

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

The Truth about Postpartum

Hi Readers! 

This week I would like to explore the subject of postpartum, also known as the postnatal period. This period begins immediately after childbirth as the woman’s body, hormone levels and uterus return to a non-pregnant state. 

The World Health Organization describes this period as the most critical and the most neglected phase in the lives of women and babies. 

The postpartum period can be divided into stages;

1- The initial or acute phase is 8-19 hours after childbirth and is when the mother is monitored by nurses or her midwife as complications can arise during this period. This is the phase where the mother will nurse her baby and optimise skin-to-skin contact.

2- Subacute postpartum period. This is the physical recovery period and lasts 2-6 weeks. The body is changing as it is no longer carrying the baby. There is a possibility of urinary incontinence and Kegel exercises are often recommended. There are also uterine discharges. Women are advised to wear maternity briefs or sanitary napkins. It is not recommended to use tampons or menstrual cups as they may introduce bacteria. New moms can also experience haemorrhoids and constipation. 

This period is also when psychological disorders may emerge. Postpartum mental illness can affect both parents of the newborn child. Early detection of postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and in rare cases postpartum psychosis is required to ensure adequate and early treatment. It is recommended to meet with your doctor within the first 3 weeks and another visit between 4 to 12 weeks of postpartum. 

3- The delayed postpartum period, which can last 6-8 months. During this period, muscles and connective tissue return to a pre-pregnancy state. However, there is still the possibility of urinary and faecal incontinence, pain during intercourse and pelvic prolapse. Symptoms of PTSD often subside during this period. Hair loss is also very common during this period as oestrogen levels drop. 

Going through these stages isn’t easy. If you are a new mom, don’t be hard on yourself, give yourself time to heal, get the support you need, speak to someone in your circle or book an appointment with a professional. 

Be kind to one another.

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Important facts that you should know about hormone blockers & hormone therapy

Hi Readers!

This week’s topic is about hormone blockers, hormone therapy, and the changes individuals go through during the transition period.

What are hormone blockers?

Puberty blockers and controllers are injections given to young people who would like to undergo a  gender variance. Blockers are used to pause puberty. They will delay the onset of secondary sexual characteristics i.e growth of breasts, facial hair, etc. specific to the young person’s biological sex. If the adolescent decides to stop the injections, the body will begin to experience the physical changes of puberty without consequence.

What is hormone therapy?

These hormones will trigger the development of secondary sex characteristics of the gender with which the person identifies. For example, in men, we observe the appearance of hair growth and in women, breast development.

What are the changes during the transition period?

For a woman to man transition (de Tilly & Tessier, 2016)

  • Increased secretions from the sebaceous glands
  • Possible appearance of acne
  • Increased libido
  • Expansion of the size of the clitoris
  • Change in body odour
  • Muscle mass growth (with training)
  • Redistribution of fat
  • Increased hair loss initially
  • Strengthening of the hair growth on the body and on the face after a few months
  • Non-permanent sterility while taking hormones
  • No disappearance of breasts

For a man to woman transition (de Tilly & Tessier, 2016) 

  • Softening of the skin and increased natural hydration
  • Decreased secretions from the sebaceous glands
  • Noticeable drop in libido
  • Change in body odour 
  • Increased sensitivity of the nipples and breast growth
  • Stopping the production of sperm by the testes
  • Redistribution of fat in the buttocks, thighs, breasts, and face
  • Weakening of muscle mass
  • Decrease and stopping of hair loss
  • Increased emotional sensitivity
  • After several months, weakening of the hair on the body (no effect on the face)
  • Sterility

I hope this has helped you to better understand the changes children and teens may be going through during their transition.

If you would like to read our article about parents of trans* children, click here

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

 

Cervical Screening Awareness Week (14-20 June 2021)

Hi Readers! 

14-20 June 2021 is Cervical Screening Awareness Week. I understand that this subject is something people with a cervix don’t particularly enjoy. Your mind travels to those uncomfortable smear tests… but this is currently the only test available to ensure your cervix is healthy. This is also your friendly reminder to make that smear test (PAP test) appointment if you are due for one! Go on then…put it on your to do list or call the clinic now.  

For this year’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week campaign, Jo’s Trust is focusing on helping you understand the changes to cervical screening as a result of coronavirus, including what to expect when you for your appointment. 

To read more, click here 

Read the Cervical Cancer awareness blog post here

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

Men’s Health Awareness Week 14-20 June 2021

Hi Readers!

June 14-20, 2021 is Men’s Health Week. This year’s campaign, organised by the Men’s Health Forum, focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on men’s mental health.

“Even before the pandemic, men’s mental health was a cause for concern. There is a grave disparity in the high number of men who die from suicide and the low number of men who seek treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges. During the pandemic, children and young people have been disproportionately affected by lockdowns. There has also been a considerable rise in youth unemployment, while home-schooling has hit boys and young men at school and university, especially from BAME backgrounds. Particular groups of male-dominated workforces have suffered disproportionately in terms of income and some (taxi drivers, for example) have received little support from government to compensate for this loss. Men are more likely to be in the sort of jobs that cannot easily be done from home with the result that many male-dominated workforces are also at greater risk from Covid-19.” -Men’s Health Forum

To find out more about this campaign please visit:

https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw 

What actions should you take to care for your mental health? 

  • Have activities and hobbies that make you happy
  • Read a book
  • Practice meditation
  • Exercise 
  • Set boundaries
  • Go to counselling or therapy
  • Journal

A few resources to help you find what works for you:

  • Think like a Monk by Jay Shetty. I am currently reading this and I absolutely love it. It brings a different understanding and learning of meditation and life. It is also very interesting to learn through Jay Shetty’s experience.  
  • Headspace app
  • Calm app
  • The Little Book of Sloth Philosophy, by Jennifer McCartney. I have read this book. It is a very quick and light read. It is also a small book so easy to bring around. I really enjoyed this book. It helps put certain things in perspective and teaches you to slow down.  

Get a free 30 day free Audible trial by clicking here 

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

THANK YOU

Hi Readers!

This time last year, I wrote my first article on the Julia, Sexologist Blog. I would like to thank all of you; readers, WordPress followers, and Instagram followers for reading my content every week. 

As a way to say thank you, I am giving you a 50% off code for all products in our shop, for the entire month of June, code: hbd-jsl

Have fun! Please write to me if you have any questions. 

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.