Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

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What causes Erectile Dysfunction? Many people, on occasion will struggle to get or maintain an erection. There are numerous reasons for this, ranging from; stress, tiredness, anxiety (particularly around performance) or too much alcohol. If it happens more often and causing you upset, seek support.
In the first instance I encourage people to attend their GP. Get a full blood test and a physical test carried out. This is to rule out any physiological aspects. Irrespective of the results, Sex Therapists are full qualified to assist you through talking therapy alongside exercises that can be done at home. Erectile issues are nothing to worry or be embarrassed about.

Partnership is about 'our' way, not 'my' way

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Teamwork is vital in relationships, whether it's work, family or friends. It's all about give and take. Most of us have probably been on a team one way or another; being kids on sports teams to our present work teams. However, in intimate relationships we often push back against our partner rather than collaborating, we tend, instead to be focused more on 'my' needs than 'our' needs.

Teamwork requires you to be unselfish and responsive to your spouse’s needs by collaborating, listening and encouraging. True teamwork can bring about a bountiful partnership. It allows you to grow as a person, and as a couple. Take a minute and ask yourself, what are some changes you need to make so ensure that you and your partner operate as a team?

Passive Aggressive behaviour

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Passive aggressive behaviour takes many forms. Most of us know it by the obvious signs; verbal low-level attacks (criticism, snide comments etc) or indirect behaviours (slamming doors, stomping around). But passive aggressive behaviour may not always be conscious for example; procrastinating or avoiding (eg; being late), chronic forgetting, self-pity, withholding (actions such as sex, or even making a cup of tea), learned helplessness and shifting blame. Ultimately; passive aggressive behaviour is a way of expressing anger covertly or indirectly. This way of resolving issues seems almost unnoticeable. Passive aggressiveness can appear low-key, making it can difficult to identify and admit to. It can push people way with the slow drip-feeding of negativity. In order to change your behaviour, firstly, it's important to connect with the emotion. Often with PA behaviour it stems from not having a good understanding of why you are angry. Before you start addressing your actions start paying attention to what is triggering you. Then give yourself time to make the needed changes, showing yourself compassion as you do. Finally; practice! Practice how to assert yourself before you do, this will hopefully help you feel more confident.

Cervical smears

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"If we are comfortable enough to undress in front of our beauticians, why are so many of us still too embarrassed to take a potentially life-saving test?" Cervical screening is a at a 20 year low with two lives lost to cervical cancer every day.
Treatwell and Public Health England have teamed up to try and encourage people to attend their screenings through #lifesavingwax . Campaigning in salons through these leaflets to encourage change and conversation.
We take care of our appearance everyday-what about our health?

Negative thoughts effect Erections

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How do negative thoughts effect your erections? Just as we are not always conscious of the way we walk or how we drive a car, we are often not aware of our thinking. Some of our thinking is so habitual that it is automatic, and just like driving, when things are automatic, we might not be conscious of them. Negative thoughts perpetuate performance anxiety and therefore sexual dysfunction. It has been researched that men with Erectile Dysfunction present negative automatic thoughts during sexual activities. These thoughts tend to be; “I am not achieving an erection”, “I am not able to keep an erection”. Alongside the fixation of the possibility of disappointing their partner and thoughts around shame. Finally; fear and anxiety about penis size and body image can also play a role in performance anxiety. Capturing and documenting negative thoughts is a great way to start looking at what is happening to you sexually.

Do you know your projections?

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Projection is a subconscious defence mechanism. It's the tendency to disown the qualities we don’t like about ourselves and attributing them to others. It happens in relationships when we blame others for old or present hurts. Projection holds power when we have the inability to see it. Especially, if there is a high level of intensity, it creates a strong urge to blame.
In relationships, projection hurts our partners by casting them into a false role, and placing your feelings onto them. Its power lies in our inability to see it. Identifying and communicating that your responses are a projection of past relationship incidences, childhood experiences or your own personal issues, is an incredibly courageous act. It provides insight that may be needed to stop your relationship becoming stuck. Projection keeps us from understanding the true source of our pain and being able to tackle it. Blaming your partner keeps you from discovering your part in the dynamic, and it results in an entanglement. To tackle your projections this first thing I suggest is; when you get triggered, stay with the feelings.  Secondly try to ask yourself (in regards to emotions or negative thoughts); "who owns this? Is it mine? Or is it theirs?" This can help give a hand to identifying if this is a projection or the reality. Owning and communicating them is brave and courageous.

Oxytocin and the brain

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OXYTOCIN!! You may know it as the 'Love hormone'. It is a neurotransmitter and is produced in the hypothalamus (which sits in the base of the brain). It is my favourite hormone as it brings so much good; it’s even released during childbirth and breastfeeding. Building empathy and trust in relationships. To....of course....being released through sexual activity and orgasms! One way of doing thanks through nipple play. That is for people of all genders! Though women tend to have a higher level. If you're with a partner and seeing a positive physiological and emotional reaction, you are getting that oxytocin moving from their hypothalamus into their blood stream!

Fixing others is not your responsibility

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Repeat after me; "it's not my responsibility to fix others."
It's is not your responsibility to fix, rescue or save anyone. 
Often this habit has started from early childhood. We took on the role as rescuer as a duty and it became innate. Ingraining itself into our relationships. Perhaps you witnessed the importance of supporting someone as a young child, perhaps you were needed to look after others, or perhaps you were directly told. ▪When we believe that we need to 'fix' or 'save', we are saying "I don't trust you to do it yourself". We are removing that person's power and taking their ability away. ▪ Taking on this responsibility may mean that we can wear ourselves out, become stressed and ill, even build resentment. ▪Finally you can enable their behaviour, by taking on responsibility of their struggles and pain. Relinquishing their accountability.
▪It's always a good idea to reflect back and try to learn where this desire to rescue came from. When did it start? Were there messages you got as a child? Are there certain people I always do it with? What is the fear of not fixing or rescuing-do I think something may happen?

Not all women possess vulvas

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"Sometimes I think people interpret those as vagina pants, they call them vulva pants, they call them flowers, but it just represents some parts of some women. There are some women in the video that do not have on the pants, because I don't believe that all women need to possess a vagina to be a woman." Janelle Monae

Challenge the term 'Good in Bed'

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Movies, TV shows and magazines perpetuate the myth of what being 'good in bed'* means. This burrows into our psyche and puts an incredible amount of pressure on (particularly young) people.
When I wrote this quote I decided to google; 'good in bed'...... I sat with my head in my hands for a while!So I thought I would try bust some of the myths. 
What does being 'good in bed' mean? 
1. Feeling comfortable with your body, including your genitals. This, hopefully, allows you to feel more relaxed and free.
2. Understanding what you enjoy. Therefore being able to communicate them to your partner so that you can both benefit. 
3. Learn about what your partner enjoys. 
4. Sexual give and take! It's not all about one person. 
5. Being respectful. Accepting someones dislikes, or likes without being hurtful or shaming. 
What does being 'good in bed' NOT mean? 
1. Needing a 'perfect' (whatever that means!) body/looks and youth.
2. Knowing every trick and applying them at every opportunity. This reduces sex to a technique. 
3. Lots of past sexual experiences. This may help with your own experience, but everyone is different. What worked with one person, may not work with another. 
4. High sex drive and/or ability to last. These factors don't give sensitivity or knowledge and are part of myths that have perpetuated for years.
5. Not being respectful. You should probably remove yourself from the bed. 
Sexual responses, desires and fantasies are unique and complicated. Assuming someone 'should' know yours, or that you will know theirs probably won't make it very satisfying. Understanding yourself, body, needs and desires alongside your sexual partners. Can ultimately facilitate a satisfying sex life. Being 'good in bed' does not happen like osmosis and takes; consideration, communication and self-understanding.  Feel free to add anything I have missed in the comments below!
▪▪
*I also think we need to get rid of the phrase 'good in bed'! Don't take my using it as an endorsement! Rather an aid to bust myths!

Holly's Pombombs

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Walking past the bridge I discovered this beautiful tribute to someone who was clearly adored. Struggling with mental health issues can feel terrifying and isolating. Most of us have either lost someone or known of someone who have ended their lives, or perhaps have contemplated ourselves. It's imperative that we keep the dialogue open, that we challenge stigmas and show compassion. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts @samaritanscharity always has a phone line open (please see my highlights or swipe on this image). Holly's friends and family have done an amazing job raising awareness of the importance of talking in Holly's memory. Nobody is immune to the veil of darkness that is depression. Please know that you are not alone, you are important and it's ok not to be ok.

The Drama Triangle

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The Drama Triangle by Stephen Karpman is one of my must commonly used tools with couples. It helps to give insight and understanding to the type of destructive interaction that occurs between people in conflict. I'm a firm believer that in order to understand what is occurring in conflict you must unpick what your role is first, before attempting to blame others. The Drama Triangle, also called the Victim Triangle, is a great starting point. 

Forgiveness

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Recently I have found myself thinking a lot about forgiveness. Partly because of articles I am writing about trauma and partly due to research I have been doing on culture and religion. Forgiveness is intertwined in most religions and indicates holding power.
There is this idea that in order to move forward, we must forgive. That with forgiveness we will find true happiness and freedom. I don't believe this is the case. I am not talking about disagreements or arguments that are had between couples or family members. It's those who have experienced trauma or abuse at the hands of others, individuals who walk into my clinic room, holding pain and suffering. Although the idea of forgiveness seems simple, it can be very emotionally loaded and complex, particularly for trauma survivors.
I understand, of course,  that if a person comes in and finds that the word “forgiveness” resonates, I do not discourage it. Forgiveness is highly personal and individual. You do not need to forgive so you can move on, instead move on in the right way for you.

Vulvodynia Treatment Methods

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Second part of my posts on #vulvodynia focusing on #treatmentmethods. From my experience and research, the multi-disciplinary approach is the best method. No single treatment is appropriate for individuals with vulvodynia and it may take some time to find a treatment, or combination of treatments, that helps alleviate pain.Some people experience relief with one particular treatment, while others do not respond or experience side effects.  So finding out what works best for you is of upmost importance! 
Firstly I would recommend a Psychosexual Therapist. We are trained to support you as an individual or perhaps as a couple. Receiving a diagnosis of vulvodynia or experiencing it, tends to affect a woman’s sexual relationships and emotional well-being. 
Alongside this vulvodynia treatment may involve visiting a: •gynecologist or vulvovaginal specialist, •dermatologist, •physical therapist.
Current vulvodynia treatments include: ○Medications •Antidepressants ( both SSRIs and Tricyclic) •Anticonvulsians ○ Topical Medications (gels and creams) •Topical Hormonal Creams (e.g., estrogen, testosterone) •Topical Anesthetics •Topical Compounded Formulations (eg; anti-depressants) ○Other treatment options: •Nerve Blocks •Neurostimulation and Spinal Infusion Pump •There may also be some complementary or alternative medicine that would suit you. •Women with provoked vestibulodynia may be candidates for surgery. Success rates for surgery vary from 60% – 90%. Following a diagnosis, take your time finding what suits you for treatment options. We are all different which means what works for one person, may not for the other. Ensure that you have someone to talk to, be it a loved one or a health care professional so that you feel supported.   

Healthy relationships

@journey_to_wellness_ uses this lovely image to describe what a healthy relationship should look like. Learning about and valuing what is important to each other is paramount. Knowing and being able to express how you feel, your desires and thoughts facilitates openness which in turn leads to a deeper connection. Healthy relationships bring out the best in BOTH of yo

Intimacy and communication

The most common issue is not that couples are not communicating, its that couples are communicating in ways that push each other's emotional buttons.
In couple therapy you should get support with helping you learn how to communicate more effectively. 
Initially it's to try to get emotion out of the way when you are talking, so you can get to the root of the problems. Understanding yourself and your partner first is key. 

Vulvodynia

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Some #sexeducation for this Friday evening. With #vulvodynia being the todays topic. Vulvodynia means ongoing pain in the vulva  when there is nothing abnormal to see and no known cause for the pain. Whether it is generalised or localised, may be described as provoked, in other words touched, or spontaneous (occurring without touch as a trigger). Many conditions affecting the vulva can be painful (e.g. infections such as thrush or herpes, or eczema). In vulvodynia, pain is felt in the vulva when there is no obvious visible cause for it and other diagnoses have been ruled out by examination and investigation.There is also  localised vulvodynia (also known as Vestibulodynia) which is a term used for pain arising at the entrance of the vagina. This is when any pressure, (touch or friction) is applied. Vulvodynia is not only physically painful but it can disrupt and unhinge intimate relationships and take and emotional and mental toll. In my next post I will be talking about treatment methods for vulvodynia.  

Equality for all

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I have saved so many posts by @theequalityinstitute with the aim of posting them, but I can never decide which one!! They are all vital and powerful. I decided to choose this one for today because I believe that there still much more work to do around debunking stigma around Feminism. Feminism is about equality for ALL womxn. Feminism needs to be intersectional. It is important to to know that intersectional feminism points out that there are multi-layered facets in life that womxn of all backgrounds face.
The whole purpose of intersectional feminism is to listen to different kinds of feminists, not just ones like yourself. In other words; if you don't stand for all womxns rights , you don't stand for any  

Masturbation and the Prefrontal Cortex

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When we’re masturbating, our perception of what is sexually attractive and desirable changes. This all happens through my favourite part of the brain: The Prefrontal Cortex. Its the part of the brain that focuses on personality and creativity. Research has found that heightened sexual arousal achieved through masturbation can make almost anything and anyone seem more sexually appealing. Interestingly enough, these findings tell us that sexual arousal changes our perceptions of the world around us. Which is pretty crazy!