My background is nursing and I written over 350 sexual health and pleasure articles for our online magazine as well as other online websites, such as So Feminine, Female First, Net Doctors, Healthista, the Independent, Daily Express, Daily Mail, The Sun, Daily Star, Good Housekeeping, Glamour magazine and the Metro.
I have written articles for 2 cancer support groups,chris-cancercommunity and wombcancersupportuk and have also featured on radio talking about sex and the menopause and older people and sex.
New research published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology ( 2016) found that nearly 1 in 10 women experience painful sex, known as dyspareunia but don’t seek help because of embarrassment or they think they have to put up with it. The study of 7000 women aged between 16-74 found women in their late 50s and early 60s were mainly affected and younger women aged 16-24.
There are many other causes for painful sex such as post op scarring after gynaecological surgery such as a hysterectomy, post childbirth scarring, vaginal dryness, medical conditions, stress, anxiety and decreased sensation.
We created the Jo Divine health brochure with Consultant urogynaecologist Mr Alex Slack, Women’s Health physiotherapist Pip Salmon and gynaecology ward manager Lynda Wickenden at Tunbridge Wells Hospital who recognise that sexual pleasure and intimacy is important to many people.
They wanted to offer products that can be used in conjunction with medical dilators and sexual lubricants to encourage their patients to use them or as an alternative to help post operative scarring, vaginal tightness, vaginismus, post childbirth, post cancer treatment and when sex feels painful.
They also wanted to help their patients with decreased sexual sensation following surgery and cancer treatment or as a result of a medical condition.
It is well documented that cancer treatments impact upon sexual function, sensation, libido and body image yet many healthcare professionals do not discuss these sexual side effects and patients often feel reluctant to talk about them.
I work with Womb Cancer Support, a charity run by Kaz Molloy who supports women who have had womb cancer. I wrote an article about sex and womb cancer for her website to help women and their partners enjoy sexual pleasure and intimacy after treatment. We also have a video about enjoying Sex after Womb Cancer
We are also working with Ovacome, to help women enjoying sexual intimacy and pleasure after ovarian cancer. They are a charity who support women and their partners during and following treatment.
The health brochure is not just aimed at women experiencing gynaecological health issues, we also work with several HCPs working in Breast Cancer Care. Recent research from Breast Cancer Care (2018) found that 8 out of 10 women are dissatisfied with their sex life after breast cancer and struggle to receive the right support or advice to help them recover their sexual intimacy and pleasure.
Getting HCPs talking about sexual issues can be difficult. So I wrote an article about why HCPs find it difficult to talk about sex with their patients and how we can change this to make it easier for patients to raise their sexual problems with their doctor at the request of Chris Lewis who set up Chris-cancercommunity.
Chris and I made a video about Sex and Cancer you can find on our YouTube channel and Chris’ website too.
The health brochure includes:
Samantha also discusses the health brochure in the informative video.
I have spoken to other healthcare professionals including the South Coast of England Women’s Health physiotherapist forum.
I gave a talk at the Survivorship Multidisciplinary Conference for National Forum of Gynaecology Oncology Nurses and the British Gynaecology Cancer Society about the health brochure and related articles on Jo Divine magazine offering help, advice practical tips and links to suitable products for women who experience vaginal tightness, vaginal dryness, post op scarring, desensitisation and pelvic floor weakness. I have been invited to give a talk later this year.
“Thanks so much, I saw your little video on the website and thank you for being so straight forward about everything. I’ve been putting off doing anything for ages as I thought it would be intimidating but finally feel I have found a good resource. I’ll read the brochure and definitely be back in touch to order some stuff” (customer with ovarian cancer)
Our health brochures have been given out at the Womens Health Summit for physiotherapists, many of whom use our website as a resource for sexual advice for their patients. The womens health physiotherapists are amazing healthcare professionals who work hard to ensure their patients enjoy good sexual health.
I am a member of the Womens Healh Physio Group which has over 7000 members worldwide.
“Samantha’s products and information has been a life changer for many of my patients. Her web site is definitely one worthy of a view and also to signpost patients/clients to. Your website is a god send as far as I’m concerned!! Most of my patients don’t want to look at the likes of Ann Summers, they want good honest reviews of products with articles they can relate to….. really well done!” Aisling Burke WHPhysio, Kent
On a fun and practical note our health brochures are being given out in goody bags at the Edinburgh Fringe again this year by Gussie Grips (aka Elaine Miller, a women’s health physiotherapist) whose comedy show about the pelvic floor both educates and entertains people at the same time. You can also win one of our sex toys too!
I gave a talk about enjoying sex after childbirth at the Mummy MOT training course for women’s health physiotherapists, WH physiotherapists at the Chelsea And Westminster Hospital, Queen Mary’s Roehampton, St Thomas’ Hospital and Frimley Park.
I have also spoken to gynaecologists and obstetricians at Tunbridge Wells Hospital and to healthcare professionals at the Genital Pain and Dermatology Clinic at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey.
I was invited to give a talk at the Daisy Network Conference in June 2017 about sexual intimacy and pleasure. This is a amazing charity supporting women who have Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, younger women between 16-40 which leads to early menopause, the symptoms of which impact upon sexual pleasure and function, relationships and body confidence. I was invited to have a stand at this event this year too.
The health brochure is given out by menopause doctors in menopause clinics and in support groups across the UK, by psychosexual therapists, in genital pain and dermatology clinics, by gynaecologists and gynaecological clinical nurse specialists, including macmillan nurses and by breast cancer care nurses and doctors.
I gave a talk at the Ovacome Health and Wellbeing day in March 2019, an amazing charity supporting women during ovarian cancer and following treatment. Many women and their partners struggle tor regain their sex lives due to the impact of treatment so we talked about alternative ways beyond penetrative sex to regain sexual function and to gradually return to being sexual intimate.
We attended the College Of Sex and Relationship Therapists conference (2018) and had fascinating conversations with the delegates about our products and work at Jo Divine. Many now have some of our products to show to their patients and health brochures to give out. I have also been asked to give talks to trainee therapists in the future.
I attended the Vaginismus and Dyspareunia Conference held by Manchester Mental Health Trust (2018) where our silicone dilator kit and suitable sex toys were of great interest to the delegates. I have been invited to attend in 2019.
I am working with Diane Danzebrink who set up Menopause Support to offer advice to women throughout the menopause and beyond and Dr Louise Newson who is a GP and medical writer with a particular interest in menopause and who set up My Menopause Doctor website offering comprehensive advice about getting the right HRT for your individual needs. She also works with West Midlands Fire and Police Forces to educate people about menopause and the workplace.
Dr Louise Newson says
“Most of my patients do not have sex any more – such a shame. They change once their HRT is right though. I am amazed how few women have sex and put up with it. Also don’t know how their husbands cope. They also often say they have never been asked about sex by anyone before and are pleased to have the opportunity to talk about it. I usually recommend Jo Divine”
I am also a member of a Vagina Atrophy (VA) group. Jane Lewis who set up this group kindly wrote an article for our website to help other women with Vagina Atrophy.
Jane published her book Me & My Menopausal Vagina and we recently filmed a video about ways to enjoy sexual intimacy and pleasure when you have VA which was good fun. Having been asked to review her book all I can say is if you have a vagina read it, if you know someone with a vagina read it and if you are a HCP, read it, it is brilliant!
In March 2109 I had a stand at the West Middlesex Menopause Symposium for both staff and healthcare professionals working in gynaecology. It was really good to hear the Occupational Health nurse suggest setting up a menopause support group for staff as many women struggle with symptoms at work, some even having to give up their careers.
THose workign in gynaecology were interested in our suitable sex toys and sexual lubricants they can recommend to their patients to help them continue to enjjoy sexual intimacy and pleasure.
Our brochures are also being given out by several GPs who want their patients to enjoy better sex lives.
“Need to let you know that ++ patients have been enormously grateful for the varied articles on your website.They’ve found them incredibly helpful, reassuring and less alone/isolated. Thank you for your work – it’s much appreciated, I can assure you!” Dr Hannah Short, GP Suffolk
Dr Short has recently trained as a specialist Menopause GP and has a website where you can find help , suppoort and details of her services.
Miss Anne Henderson is another specialist Menopause doctor based in kent and London.
I am also a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Womens Involvement Panel group where many of the members are women working in womens health or who have personal experience of gynaecological issues who offer their advice, experience, review guidelines and patients leaflets published by RCOG and raise awareness about the work they are doing such as support groups, national campaigns and as patient advocates to improve gynaecological treatment and care.
We are also working with Cysters, a group set up by Neelam Heera in Birmingham for the BAME community to help women overcome gynaecological issues they may face and the stigma that is often associated with such problems due to their intimate nature by enabling them to seek the appropriate help they require and talk about these problems which impact upon their sexual function and relationships.
We recommend YES organic sexual lubricants and this is one of the best sexual lubricants I have ever used. The Double Glide is ideal for women experiencing discomfort during sex, for use with a vibrator and with our dilators too.
We advise women to find a sexual lubricant that works for them and to always check the label as not all lubricants are good for your vagina health. There are several available on prescription and over the counter that are pH balanced for your vagina health so ask your GP or pharmacist.
We frequently speak to women who have vaginismus, lichens sclerosus, post surgery tightness, post childbirth scarring, desensitisation and sexual symptoms of the menopause and recommend using YES organic lubricant with a slim product. We also have couples who are looking to find ways in which to enjoy sexual intimacy even when coital sex is not possible.
We believe that sexual health and pleasure go hand in hand and finding ways in which to enjoy sexual intimacy, either using sex toys, lubricants or just changing the way in which you think about sex is important.
Prescribing medication is not always the answer and there are many ways in which people can enjoy sex but often HCPs feel uncomfortable talking about sex, are unsure what to suggest or believe that they cannot suggest products that are not available on prescription.
The health brochure is available free of charge to healthcare professionals in the UK to give to their patients and the general public. Please email or call to request a brochure.
We also have a Jo Divine catalogue including male sex toys and products which can help with male sexual health issues in addition to the male sexual health category in our online magazine.
I am more than happy to talk to you or your patients on the phone if you have any questions. All information remains confidential.
Chris’s Cancer Community: http://www.chris-cancercommunity.com
Womb Cancer Support: http://wombcancersupportuk.weebly.com
Menopause Support: http://www.menopausesupport.co.uk
My Menopause Doctor: http://www.menopausedoctor.co.uk – Dr Louise Newson
Dr Hannah Short – Menopause Specialist
Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecology Physiotherapy
The Daisy Network
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Squeezy app is a really useful little app you can download to prompt you to do those pelvic floor exercises. Designed by womens health physiotherapist Myra Robson it can help women with their pelvic floor muscle exercises as part of a physiotherapy programme.
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