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, Healthy Magazine, Instellar 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.
Sex should never be painful
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.
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.
Cancer Charity Work
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 also work 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.
We work with Trekstock, an amazing charity who support young people with cancer.
We work with Lichens Sclerosus and Vulval Cancer Awareness, a charity founded by Clare Baumhauer who had vulval cancer to help and suppport many who have had vulval cancer and Emma Norman who has Lichens Sclerosus.
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:
- 6 slim vibrators designed for internal and external use
- Inspire Silicone Dilator Kit : consists of 5 different sized dilators
- 3 clitoral vibrators to help women who struggle to orgasm. Often surgical and medical interventions such as cancer treatment, medical conditions and the menopause can affect your libido, leading to decreased sexual sensation.
- Pelvic floor exercisers
- YES organic lubricant and vaginal moisturiser
Health Brochure – the video
Samantha also discusses the health brochure in the informative video.
Talks to Healthcare Professionals
I have given many talks to healthcare professionals across the UK 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 Health 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 have being given out in goody bags at the Edinburgh Fringe 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.
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.
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.
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 and stoma care nurses too.
“Just to let you know, your selection of toys went down a storm with the patients who attended our roadshow. I included them in my talks and this created lots of interest. All the booklets and leaflets were taken and several people indicated they would be making purchases. More importantly, the fact that sex can be enjoyed by all was well received and discussed in the Q&A session. Many thanks, Kevin”. Kevin Hayles, Amcare Stoma Care Nurse Manager
Sex and Cancer Talks
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 to 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.
I did a webinar ( my first one) in April 2020 as the Ovacome wellbeing event could not be held this year due to Corona Virus where I talked about sexual health, intimacy and pleasure where we had lots of really great questions which I hopefully answered. This was repeated in August 2020 and you can find a link to the webinar at Ovacome.
I gave a talk at the Guy’s Cancer Academy Sexual Wellbeing and Cancer on Tuesday 4th February 2020 where she spoke to 100 healthcare professionals and several patient speakers about regaining sexual function and enjoying intimacy and pleasure post treatment and when living with cancer. She talked about the importance of using pH balanced sexual lubricants and vaginal moisturisers, what ingredients to avoid such as glycerin, glycols and parabens, the detrimental impact of feminine hygiene products and how using suitable sex toys can really help people enjoy better sex.
I joined the panel at the fabulous Trekstock event Lifting the Lid on Cancer and Menopause on Wednesday 26th February 2020 . It was an amazing event, fun and informative and quite emotional at times. Lauren Mahon ( Girl vs Cancer) was such a brilliant host, so full of energy and incredibly funny, she put all the panel at ease especially the fabulous Lydia Brain who spoke about having womb cancer at 24 and Nicky Newman who has secondary breast cancer, both incredibly inspirational and amazing women. Dr Louise Newson and Dr Heather Currie spoke about HRT myths and how many women can use local oestrogen, Dr Marie Gerval talked abut her work, ongoing research andd how the Daisy Network can support anyone with premature ovarian insuffuciency and early menopause.
We attended the College Of Sex and Relationship Therapists conference (2019) 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 and we recommend them to our customers. I have given several talks at psychosexual therapy study days and we gave a talk at the Institute of Sexology to their trainee therapists in 2019.
Menopause and Sex
I work 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.
I recently joined Dr Newson, Diane Danzebrink, Jane Lewis, Katie Taylor (founder of Latte Lounge) , Athena Lamnisos (CEO of Eve Appeal ) and Liz Earle on a menopause panel at the Latte Lounge Charity Spa Day and recorded a podcast with Katie and Francine Kaye where we talked about the impact of menopause upon sexual intimacy and pleasure and relationships.
Diane and I also recorded two vlogs, one about pelvic ehalth and one about sex and menopause which you can find on her website Menopause Support.
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 recently recorded a podcast with Dr Newson about Sex and the Menopause, talking about intimate health including using suitable sexual lubricants and vaginal moisturisers, how sex toys can help you regain your sex life and how to talk to your partner about enjoying sexual intimacy and pleasure.
I was thrilled to be mentioned as a resource for sexual intimacy and pleasure advice in addition to Jo Divine in Dr Louise Newson’s first book, a Haynes Manual on Menopause – a definitive guide to help women, their partners and families cut through the plethary of misinformation and take a straightforward look at menopause and in Dr Philippa Kay’s book, The M Word.
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!
I wrote about about sexual intimacy and pleasure for mpoweredwomen and you can find my articles on their website.
In March 2019 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.
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 , support 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.
I am also a member of the Surgical Menopause Advisory Committee for International Association For Premenstrual Disorders with Dr Hannah Short, Dr Nick Panay, Diane Danzebrink, Dr Malcolm Dixon and Andrea Chisholm
We also raise awareness about 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.
Sexual Health Advice
We advise women to find a sexual lubricant that works for them and to always check the ingredients label as many contain ingredients that are not good for your intimate 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.
Some people may prefer to use a silicone lubricant as it is longer lasting, however it is advisable not to use a silicone lubricant with a silicone sex toy as it can damage the silicone.
People often think they are allergic to condoms but it is, in fact, the lubricant on the condom or the product they are using with the condoms which is why we sell SKINS condoms which are lubricated with silicone lubricant.
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.
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.
Enjoying Sex whatever your age
Having many older customers in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who enjoy sexual intimacy and pleasure I was invited to join an online panel with Adam Lewis, founder of Hot Octopuss, Dr Louise Newson, GP and Menopause specialist at Newson Health and Jackie Marshall-Cyrus, moderator and Ageing Innovation Strategist on the Healthy Ageing and Sex panel at the Longevity Congress in April 2020 to talk about the benefits of sex as we get older, dispelling societal myths about sex and ageing, attitudes of healthcare professionals towards their older patients who wish to continue enjoying great sex, sex toy retailers who claim to be inclusive by being LGBTQ+ yet ignore older people and those with disabilites and how, by not including the over 50’s in their advertising campaigns, some sexual health brands are missing out on the huge spending capacity this older demographic has.
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. Enjoying good sexual health and pleasure benefits both your physical and mental wellbeing whatever your age, gender, sexual orientation, health condition or disability.
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 and mens health brochure 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.
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
International Association For Premenstrual Disorders
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.