What I wish Everyone knew about Self-Confidence

Hi Readers!

Since we spoke about self-esteem last week, let’s dive into self-confidence this week.

Having confidence in yourself is, above all, knowing yourself; it is believing in your potential and in your abilities. To assess our self-confidence, we should be able to calculate how much we consider ourselves to be capable, in general.

Self-confidence is acquired through internal security, an affirmation of needs, acquisition of skills, and recognition by others. The work of self-confidence is a work of introspection. An individual who knows themselves, and who knows how to accept themselves, will have greater self-confidence than a person who spends their time questioning themselves.

Self-confidence grows and continues to evolve over the course of an individual’s life. It is particularly important during the first years of a child’s life, but also during the period of adolescence. Family and parents then play a decisive role.

Each of us experiences a lack of self-confidence at some point in our life. A lack of self-confidence is expressed through a multiplicity of feelings: shyness, lack of confidence, insecurity, doubt, etc. It is possible to be insecure in some situations and be very confident in others. Self-confidence also varies depending on the event.

Here are a couple of great activities to help you build and sustain your self-confidence:

1. Complete the following about yourself:

    1. List 4 or more qualities
    2. List 2 or more strengths
    3. List 3 nice gestures or things I have done for someone
    4. List 4 activities/hobbies I excel in
    5. List one of the nicest compliments you have ever received.

2. Goal setting: make a list of 3 goals. For every goal but an end date. For every goal, write 5 tasks you need to do to achieve this goal.

To continue your self-confidence and self-love journey, you can purchase our ebook here.

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

 

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A Few Tricks to Boost Your Self-Esteem

Hi Readers! 

This week’s topic is self-esteem. Self-esteem is the judgment that we have of ourselves and that we carry with us every day.

Self-esteem can be translated into the relationship between what we are as an individual (physical appearance, social success, etc.) and what we would like to be. The more our image shifts from our goal or our ideal, the lower our self-esteem will be. The building of self-esteem takes its roots during early childhood. 

As with self-confidence, parents play a key role in the development of self-esteem. While self-esteem is consolidated over the course of our lives, it is important to nurture a young person’s strengths and encourage their development during their initial, foundational years to set them off on the right foot towards building self-esteem.  

Self-esteem helps us immensely in building our personality. The more we hold ourselves in high esteem, the more we will be able to flourish and demonstrate our true nature. In order to assess your self-esteem, you need to evaluate yourself in all aspects of your life. Don’t worry, it is normal for you to feel more confident about yourself in certain aspects of your life and less so in others. 

Here are a couple of great activities to help you build and sustain your self-esteem:

  1. Write down one compliment (physical, psychological, social, etc.) each day and repeat it to yourself throughout the day. Write it on a sticky note, in your calendar, in your reminders but write it down! 
  1. For each category below, make a list of 5 or more positive:
    1. Your qualities and personality traits
    2. Your strengths and talents
    3. Your values 

To continue your self-esteem and self-love journey, you can purchase our ebook here.

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

 

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International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Hi Readers!

May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. 

This day was created in 2004; it aims is to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and all other individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expression. This day is observed in more than 130 countries. 

On May 17th, 1990, the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder and decided to go one step further and chose the day to celebrate diversity.

We should celebrate diversity every day by watching diverse tv series / movies and reading diverse books. If you are a teacher, educator, outreach worker, social worker, having the pride flag in your office, in your pencil case, as a bracelet, can go a long way in helping your service users. 

Be an ally; stand up to those who make discriminatory comments and educate those around you who may not have the same knowledge you do about gender diversity and sexual orientation.

Here are some links to some previous blog articles about gender and sexual diversity:

influential LGBTQ individuals throughout history

Gender identity

sexual orientation

parents of trans* children

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

 

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How Penile Cancer Affects Sexuality

Hi Readers! 

This week’s topic is Penile cancer. We will focus on penile cancer’s impacts on sexuality.

For all other information on this subject, please visit the Orchid Cancer Appeal’s website (www.orchid-cancer.org.uk). If you or someone you know is affected by penile 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. They also have a great virtual support group for individuals living with penile cancer.

Most of the information in this article today is from Orchid Cancer Appeal.

Penile cancer is a very sensitive subject. It affects over 600 people a year in the UK. You can appreciate that depending on the type of treatment an individual may undergo, it will affect them in different ways. 

Treatment may have an effect not only on their body but their self-image and self-esteem as it can affect a person’s appearance and how they feel about themselves. For some individuals living with penile cancer, sexuality may not be an issue but for others it is. It is important that the person and their partner understand the issues around the treatment of penile cancer to better understand the impacts it can have on their sexuality. This will help communication within the couple and find solutions together. You can read our article about communication here.

No matter the treatment individuals opt for, it will take some time for them to adjust to the appearance of their penis. Some men may feel “less of a man” and worry that they will not be able to fulfill their partner’s sexual needs like they used to before the diagnosis. One of the most difficult issues following surgery is how the treatment will affect the appearance of the penis and its function during sexual intercourse. 

It is important for people living with penile cancer to practice self-care and self-love; understanding what masculinity means and not focusing on a single body part is very important. Masculinity is not defined by genitals.

There are many ways to maintain and restore a sex life between partners. Do not limit yourself to intercourse (penetration); be creative! Be affectionate, hug, kiss, caress, take a bath together, massage your partner, use adult toys and accessories, etc. Exploring your erogenous zones will also help with the development of new ideas. 

The Couple’s Intimacy Workbook we created will help you to do this!   

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

 

For further reading click here. 

Guides and workbooks are available here.

How much do you know about counselling and therapy?

Hi Readers!

Since there is some confusion/misunderstanding between counselling and therapy, I’ve prepared a simple guide for you. 

The similarities between counselling and therapy are:

  • Development of a healing, safe and therapeutic relationship between the professional and the individual
  • Effective for children and adults
  • Used to understand a person’s feelings and behaviours
  • Addressing issues with the goal of improving a person’s life

Although there are similarities, there are also some important differences. 

Counselling:
  • Short to medium term process to find solutions for the present problematic situation an individual is experiencing
  • Focused on a specific situation
  • The counsellor provides guidance, support and education to help the person identify and find their own solutions to the problematic situation
Therapy:
  • The long-term process to find a solution to a recurring problematic situation
  • Exploring past issues that may be contributing to the present problematic situation
  • Focused on the bigger picture; how patterns of behaviour are affecting the individual’s life 
  • In-depth focus on internal thoughts/feelings leading to personal growth

I hope this has helped you better understand the difference between counselling and therapy.

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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Be Kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

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