The Vaginismus Network Meet Up

The Vaginismus Network Meet Up

We are delighted to announce details of The Vaginismus Network (VN)’s next meet up, happening in-store on Friday 02 August!

This will be a relaxed, friendly and safe space to connect with other people who have vaginismus over a glass of bubbles (non-alcoholic if preferred). VN founders Kat and Lisa will host a relaxed and honest question and answer session with resident Psychosexual Therapist, Sarah Berry, on all related topics, as all three have first-hand experience of living with the condition.

Our store manager, Renée Denyer, will be on hand to explain exactly how Sh! can help sufferers and why many GPs and psychotherapists choose to refer patients to us. If that wasn’t enough, the fab Co-Active Coach, Audrey Cairo, will be making a guest appearance to share her experience with vaginismus as someone who has grown up with it:

“Vaginismus has been part of my story that has shaped me in various ways.  While coaching people to get back their agency I hope to open my practice to women with similar challenges to build their confidence, their own self worth and step into their beauty & sexuality.”

You can read more about Audrey’s journey here. There is no reason to suffer in silence if you are affected by vaginismus. Come along, enjoy a complimentary goody bag and have a chat!


Vaginismus Awareness Event

Vaginismus Awareness Event

Did you know that at least 2 in 1,000 women experience Vaginismus once in their lifetime?

Vaginismus, a condition where the pelvic muscles spasm to prevent penetration, making sex painful or even impossible affects thousands, but many are too embarrassed or afraid to seek treatment. Sh! is now opening up the conversation about painful sex and Vaginismus with an in-store awareness event, featuring expert advice and non-judgemental discussions.

On Friday 14th of September, in honour of Vaginismus Awareness Day we have curated an in-store event as part of our mission to reach out and support anyone affected by this condition.

As well as a complimentary glass of bubbly and a free bottle of Sh! Pure Lube (25ml), our resident specialists will be on hand to present and share their expertise.

Join Us!

*Spaces are limited so make sure to book early to avoid disappointment.

About the Speakers

Sarah Berry, Sex & Relationship Therapist – Your Vaginismus Journey

Sarah BerryHaving had her own battle with Vaginismus, Sarah is honoured to be able to help sufferers and partners on their own journeys with this condition.

Sarah is an accredited, experienced, sex & relationship therapist, who uses traditional counselling techniques as well as specialists sex and relational tools to help people find answers to why they have the condition, what maintains it and how to overcome it. She works experientially with each person or couple. While there are patterns, everyone is different and needs to find their own way to achieve their own goals.

Sarah’s advice has featured in publications including:

Cosmopolitan, The Telegraph, DIVA, The Daily Mail, Bizarre, Metro, The Huffington Post, The Evening Standard, Time Out, Company, Fiesta, Forum and Men’s Health.  Sara has been a guest on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour and various shows on LBC.

Renée Denyer, Senior Store Manager at Sh! – Vibrate Your Way Through Vaginismus

Renee - Senior ( & award-winning!) ManagerRenée is the multi-award winning Senior Store Manager & Sexuality Educator at Sh!.  An expert in female sexuality, Renée’s knowledge of sex toys and their benefits is unparalleled and she has years of experience offering advice and recommendations to women (cis and trans) battling Vaginismus.

During the evening, Renée will do a short presentation of the specially designed Sh! Vibrating Dilator Kit and explain the benefits of using vibrations as a way of overcoming Vaginismus. After the presentation, she will be on hand to recommend suitable toys and their potential for your pleasure.

During her 11 years at Sh!, Renée has been invited to share views, insights, and tips & tricks with a wide range of online & print magazines and newspapers such as Grazia, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Glamour, BuzzFeed, The Debrief, Evening Standard, The Sun, Flavour Magazine, DIVA Magazine, Mirror, Amor Magazine, Bloomberg, SoFeminine and Hindustan Times.


vaginismus awareness day 2018





The Vaginismus Network July Meet Up

We are delighted to welcome back The Vaginismus Network aka Lisa & Kat for a second meet up on 13th July at 6.30pm.

VN Invite

Co-founded by Kat and Lisa, the Network was set up as a relaxed, safe space for women living with Vaginismus to chat and connect. Their mission is to educate, support and empower women who are living with this condition, and they will each share inspiring parts of their personal journeys with guests.

Sh! Store Manager Renee will give a warm & humorous talk on the usefulness of vibrations, especially focusing on the Sh! vibrating dilating sets and how these kits can help overcome Vaginismus.

vaginal-dialator-setThe Sh! dilating kit is the world’s first soft silicone vibrating dilating kit, a million miles away from the hard, blunt monstrosities often offered by the NHS. The kit was designed after meeting so many women desperate for something other than the above-mentioned plastic dilators, and we are proud to say ours are hand-poured in our in-store silicone lab. Guests attending the meetup will be able to touch and feel the dilators and accompanying vibrating bullet, and will also be offered a discount on these unique kits after the talk.

And as if that’s not enough, Sex & Relationship Therapist Sarah Berry will give an insightful talk on Vaginismus, its causes and what can be done to overcome this stressful condition. Having a wealth of experience, Sarah’s open & honest talk was hugely popular at the last meetup, offering valuable insight into a condition that often makes the sufferer feel alone and isolated.

The first Vaginismus Network meet-up was a great success with over 30 women coming together to discuss Vaginismus and their experience of living with it. We’re looking forward to an equally inspiring event and if you feel nervous or worried about attending, you needn’t be. The atmosphere is warm, supportive and welcoming. (And the relaxing glasses of wine to welcome guests work to settle nerves fast!)

When: Friday 13th July 2018 | 6.30pm

Where: Sh! 31-35 Pitfield Street, London N1 6HB

Tickets: FREE | Book here: July Meet Up

Tickets for the first event booked up quickly and we recommend you book early to avoid disappointment as spaces are limited.


Vaginismus Network Meet Up

The Vaginismus Network Community Meet-Up at Sh!

We are delighted to welcome The Vaginismus Network to Sh! for its very first meet-up on 13h April 2018.

Co-founded by Kat and Lisa, the aim of The Vaginismus Network is to break isolation and create a inclusive community for those living with Vaginismus.

Having only met in person as recently as 2017, Kat and Lisa have both been living with the condition for years, feeling isolated, ashamed and frustrated. Being all too familiar with the impact Vaginsimus has on relationships and self-esteem, they decide to do something about it:

“Our aim is to build a community of women with Vaginismus, and help make connections between women who live near one another or who are in similar situations.”

The evening will include short talks by Kat & Lisa (Co-Funders of The Vaginismus Network), Renee Denyer (Senior Store Manager & Sex Educator at Sh!), and Sarah Berry (Sex & Relationship Therapist). There will be ample time to meet, chat and connect with other women living with Vaginismus in a safe, relaxed space.

Where: Sh! 31-35 Pitfield Street, N1 6HB (enter through Pitfield Coffee Shop)

When: Friday 13th April at 6.30pm

Price: Free

Book a space: Eventbrite page here


Follow the Vaginismus Network on Twitter. 

Vaginismus Awareness Day

Vaginismus Awareness Day

Vaginismus, a complex psychosomatic condition affecting thousands of women, yet so few talk about it.

At least 2 in 1,000 women experience Vaginismus at some point in their lifetime – and probably many, many more who are too afraid or embarrassed to seek medical attention and help.

Many of these women go for years without seeking help, or even realising that help is available. Or, another common thread, is plucking up the courage to look for help, only to be told the pain is imagined.

Vaginismus Awareness Day

In order to raise awareness of this painful condition, we created Vaginismus Awareness Day on the 15th September 2016.

We’re dedicate this day (15th September 2017) to talking about Vaginismus and raising awareness of issues associated with it. Vaginismus isn’t ‘only’ about sex, it’s about life.

Penetrative sex is not the only thing its victims loose – let’s be honest, not everyone prioritise that – but a sense of intimacy or self-worth too.

Join the discussing by using #VaginismusAwarenessDay, #Vaginismus or #PainFeeSex on when Tweeting at us (@Shwomenstore), or leave a comment below – we’d love to hear first-hand experiences of Vaginismus.

What is Vaginismus?

Vaginismus is the term used to describe recurrent or persistent involuntary tightening of muscles around the vagina whenever penetration is attempted. Penetration, in this case, does not refer to penis-in-vagina sex only, it refers to any type of insertion into the vagina, including use of tampons and cervical smear tests.

This tightening of the vagina may make any kind of insertion not only difficult and painful, but impossible.

1. Body anticipates pain and tightens vaginal muscles.

Facts About Vaginismus

  • Approximately 10% of adult women have experienced painful intercourse in the last six months.
  • 2 out of every 1,000 women has at least moderate Vaginismus.
  • Approximately 20% of women who seek help from sexual clinics are experiencing Vaginismus.
  • 53% of clinical Vaginismus patients are married.
  • 53% of women with Vaginismus are between 25 and 35 years old, with 18% younger and 29% older.

Is Vaginismus Treatable?

Yes, it is! Because it’s a condition that involves the head and body, the best thing to do is see a psychotherapist who knows about Vaginismus. All the therapists on the COSRT website will have had specific training in this.

For more information and helpful advice on Vaginismus, visit our Vaginismus Awareness site.

Or, if you have been diagnosed and feel ready to start treatment, take a peek at a peek at our handmade, soft silicone dilating kit.

The existing plastic kits were described by women we talked to as too blunt and painful to use, which is why ours are made from silicone, ensuring the maximum level of comfort.
The thrilling buzz from the removable vibrating bullet helps to relax tense nerve endings and can make the process easier, the discomfort less and the pleasure involved better than with the standard plastic dilator sets.
With a 95% chance of treating the condition, it is time to talk about Vaginismus, shatter the isolation, and eliminate the pain.

By using code  DILATE0917 you will receive a 12% discount when you buy the Sh! Silicone Dilating Kit up until and including Friday 22nd September 2017.





anal lubricant advice

Q&A: Is Coconut Oil Good For Sex?

My partner and I have been together for 4 years and have been enjoying a busy sexual life until last night, when I couldn’t penetrate her when we moved through to the bedroom. Before that she was fine, well lubed and happy, but when she was on the bed she said it felt like I was stretching her and that it felt like it was burning and dry.

We use coconut oil as lube and have done for 3 years and we both had a sexual health check when we started going out.

Thank you

Hi there,

Sorry to hear your wife is experiencing pain during sex – those are never fun moments.

We’d suggest your wife gets herself checked out – it could be that her wonderous vagina has had its pH balance disrupted by the coconut oil (or something else, like washing powder or bath oils).

Coconut oil is fast becoming a popular substitute for lubricant and we have had many customers asking us whether they should ditch sex shop lube and just head over to the nearest supermarket for something edible instead.

Let’s look a little bit closer at some of the non-lube products often used for sex.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal, and isn’t necessarily the best option for delicate vaginal membranes. This ability to kill bacteria and viruses is one of the reasons it has no business in a lady garden. Vaginas are sensitive little souls with both good and bad bacteria constantly battling it out for top position. Coconut oil leaves an oily, clingy residue inside the vagina, likely upsetting the natural balance and allowing infections to take hold.

Generally considered to be comedogenic, coconut oil can also clog pores which in turn causes irritation. Add to that its latex-incompatibility and negative effect on soft-surface sex toys, and you’ll  understand why we’d recommend leaving the coconut oil for cooking and opting for a muff-friendly water-based lubricant for sex instead.

Olive Oil

olive-oilOlive oil is very weak acid. Like coconut oil, it is not soluble in water and therefor not a great option for sexcapades. Leaving residues clinging to insides will no doubt help the olive oil go rancid, and you can image what’ll happen then…

Whilst edible, it has not been recommended for sex-use by FDA.

Olive oil breaks down latex condoms.

Baby Oil

Using baby oil may seem like an obvious choice – if it’s gentle enough to use on a baby, it’s gentle enough to use on me, right?


It’s that pesky oil again – it harbors germs and other harmful bacteria inside the body and happily creates one unpleasant bout of Bacterial Vaginosis after another. It can also cause Desquamative Vaginitis – more uncommon – which is the equivalent of skin peeling after a sunburn. (Ouch!)

Baby oil breaks down latex in seconds, leaving lovers at risk of STI’s and unwanted pregnancies, and it ruins sex toys.

If you enjoy the slippery feeling of baby oil, we recommend switching to a silicone-based lube instead. Just remember silicone-based lube isn’t compatible with soft-surface toys.

Vaseline / Petroleum Jelly

We know many couples opt for Vaseline/petroleum jelly as lubricant for penetrative sex. Petroleum jelly is a mixture of natural waxes & mineral oils that together lock moisture in skin and initially it may seem like a good idea, but we’ll explain why this product should be used for chapped lips and dry hands only.

Vaseline creates a thick layer of gloop inside the vaginal canal, creating a fantastic environment for trapping and growing nasty bacteria. It is not water-soluable, so no amount of water will rinse it off/out – and we sincerely hope you’re not planning on soaping up your insides as that will make an already bad situation much, much worse…

Vaseline breaks down latex – STI warning! – and ruins beautiful silicone sex toys.

Put down the Vaseline and pick up a lube with great staying power instead.

Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub ointment may seem like a fun substitute for a cooling and enhancing gel – but really, no.  Don’t do it. A mentholated topical gel, it is intended for use on chest and back for cold/cough suppression. Applied to sensitive nethers, the gel will burn in a way that brings tears to eyes…

Instead, choose a gentle, condom-friendly lube lube like ID Pleasure if you’re looking for extra thrills.

Shampoo, Sun Screen & Shaving Gel

All of these are unsuitable products for sex use. Chemicals and fragrances will irritate genital membranes and increase the risk of unwanted infections. A sore foof is no fun at all. And chances are they’ll burn through a condom in mere seconds – it really is not worth it, people. Protect your vag (or peen) by using only suitable products


Despite being wet (duh!), water is drying and not suitable for bringing additional moisture to frictional activities such as sex (or smear tests – we were horrified when a nurse had run out of gel and suggesting using *water* instead. Not the same thing, lady!). Using water as lube may result in chafing and friction burns.


Using spit as lube is an oft-used visual part in porn flicks – this doesn’t mean it is good practice. Of course, human saliva is better than nothing, and needs must and all that, but a mouth is full of bacteria (espesh if it’s been a few hours since teeth were last brushed). Saliva is 99.5% water but also contains electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds and various enzymes.

There are so many excellent lubes available on the market these days, there really is no excuse for not having a bottle of slippy wonder-stuff ready for play time!

Lube Shelf

If you’d like any tailored advice or recommendations, please feel free to drop us a line at and we’ll answer you privately.

We may also share Q&A’s so others may benefit, but if we do it will always be anonymous, with nothing left in to identify you – promise!




Q&A: Which Lube is Best for Me?

I am a disabled woman and am entering the menopause. Vaginal dryness is a problem and annoyingly I have an allergy to the crèmes recommended by the Drs. which have oestrogen in them so cannot lubricate for sex this way. I have been experimenting with a variety of over the counter non hormone lubricants to get over this problem during penetrative sex. Normal lube (Like Boots own brand and Durex Play) are no good, I’ve tried ones containing silicone (ID silk natural feel) which was much better. However, I leak a little water during sex and it washes the lube away! Is there anything which is a little more resilient. Fed up of feeling like I have a chaffed area at the entrance.

Hope you can help, my Dr recommended I get in touch, as she said she wasn’t an expert but you might have some ideas of brands??? Looking through your site there seems to be Eros Pjur lubricant. Is this a good one or can you recommend something better.

Hope you can help (Feel a bit exposed mailing you but last ditch attempt…)

Hello there,

Many thanks for your email. We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing such a frustrating time and we hope we can help.

There are many different types of lubrication out on the market and it can be really tricky to navigate the various options on offer.

Eros Pjur is a good silicone-based lubricant. Silicone-based means slicker and longer lasting. The lube will keep doing its thing until washed off with soap & water.

Use lube when playing with a waterproof as water will wash away your natural wetness...

A really thick lube can also work well as it’ll last for longer. Our own-brand Lush Pure Plus lube is the one we’d recommend when dryness is a real issue. It’s paraben-free and water-based, which means exceptionally body-friendly. We usually recommend this particular lube for menopausal women as the viscous formula is longer-lasting and makes play more comfortable.

A water-based lube is water soluble, meaning you can rinse it of with water only – no need for soap.

Silicone-based lubes can cause vaginal irritation in women who are very sensitive, so we’d recommend trying the thicker, water-based lube first.

You mention that there is leaking during sex – do you know why this might be? If it’s to do with a weak pelvic floor muscle, this can be strengthened by regular kegel exercise or with the help of love-balls.

These weighted balls are worn internally and help tone up the PC muscle, which in turn may take care of the leakage. There is a very helpful blog piece on how to use love balls here.

It might be worth discussing this with your Doctor?

Best of luck!

Love, Team Sh! xx


If you’d like any tailored advice or recommendations, please feel free to drop us a line at and we’ll answer you privately.

We may also share Q&A’s so others may benefit, but if we do it will always be anonymous, with nothing left in to identify you – promise!


How to use a g-Spot Vibrator

Q&A: How Do I Use a G-spot Vibrator?

So I bought a g spot vibrator but umm I don’t know how to use it, how far inside should it go, because it can not go inside… like less than a quarter of if can, and it hurts, so I give up and uhg, i really want to use it but its painful and hence i think im using it wrong. thank you and i’m sorry for this REALLY awkward question, wait i haven’t asked my question, sorry, how do you use a g spot vibrator?

Hello there,

Many thanks for your email.

We are a little concerned about the vaginal pain – we’d recommend getting that seen to, first of all. It might not be anything serious at all – perhaps a little tear in the delicate membranes – but any and all muff-pain should always be checked out by a professional.

A little bit of knowledge on the G-spot itself is a good place to start.

G-Spot picture

The G-spot is located close to the entrance of the vagina, about half a finger in and up on the front wall. Have a feel with a lubed-up finger – the ridged area is the G-spot.

Always use a good lube for all sex play, including when experimenting with using G-spot vibrators. Add lube to fingers, toy and muffkin – you might find this makes a huge difference.

Are you comfortable with other kinds of penetration, i.e with fingers and/or penises? It is possible that the girth of the toy is wrong for you – a toy that is too big will be uncomfortable. An intact hymen could also make things a little painful.

It’s important to be fully aroused before going G-spotting. The G-spot grows with arousal, making it easier to find and stimulate. Inserting a toy into a body that isn’t yet ready for it can make the experience uncomfortable and painful – not good.

demona-wave-vibratorA toy designed for G-spot pleasure doesn’t have to go very far in to be able to stimulate the right area. The important part of the design is that the toy has a bump or an upwards curve on the tip  – this bump or curve is the part that can work magic. A G-spot orgasm takes time but is worth the extra effort. 😉

We recommend “juicing the G-spot” – firm, circular motions on the area. Make sure you’ve emptied the bladder beforehand so you can just relax and enjoy the sensations.

Good luck!

Love, Team Sh! xx

If you’d like any tailored advice or recommendations, please feel free to drop us a line at and we’ll answer you privately.

We may also share Q&A’s so others may benefit, but if we do it will always be anonymous, with nothing left in to identify you – promise!


Q&A: Did sex hurt because I’m not attracted enough to men?

I recently lost my virginity to a guy that I absolutely trust and am very attracted to. He was able to make me cum using his hands, but sex was incredibly painful for me. He isn’t particularly big but I’m pretty sure he caused some tearing as well (I bled a lot, although I think I started my period at same time). I was sore so we left it and recently tried again and it still hurt, perhaps marginally less but still far too much for me to continue.

I’ve heard that even your first time doesn’t have to hurt if you’re properly aroused and unarousal was the only explanation I could think of, but I enjoy everything else he does. I’m bisexual so perhaps it’s possible my attraction for men isn’t strong enough to be sexual? There’s also the fact I have never inserted anything besides tampons and in fact being fingered hurt first time round. 

So I want to know: is it normal for it to hurt or should I be worried, and what can I do to stop the pain?


Hey there,

Many thanks for your email.  We’re sorry to hear your first time was so painful but it’s not uncommon. Painful sex is never fun and can put people off for a long, long time.

First of all we’d recommend booking a check up to make sure all is well on the inside of the vagina. There could be a number of reasons for the pain,  and it’s always best to have it checked out. It’s not impossible that you have a vaginal infection that may require antibiotics, for example. Or Endometriosis which is a common condition that causes pain during and after sex. There is another condition called Vaginismus that causes pain when penetration is attempted. But – the good news is that most conditions causing painful sex are treatable.

Sh! Paraben-Free LubricantSecondly, did you use lube? We always recommend generous amounts of lube for all sex play. There is always the possibility that your vaginal membranes were dry, especially if you felt nervous for your first time. Other factors such as dehydration caused by alcohol, medication or tiredness are very common and these can all  make penetrative sex uncomfortable.

Positioning can make a whole world of difference. It might be an idea for you to be in control of penetration, when you decide to give sex another go. Being on top means that you can stop if it begins to feel uncomfortable at all.

We can’t comment on whether or not you felt aroused at the time – only you know that. It could be that you didn’t feel turned on because there was no chemistry with the guy or it could be that you didn’t feel aroused, or lost your desire exactly because it was painful!

The good news is that sex usually gets much better with time so you have lots of exciting experiences to look forward to!

Love, Team Sh! xx



Q&A Your Sex-Questions Answered

Q&A: I’m not sure if I want to have sex?

I’m still a virgin at 26. I have had bad experiences with sex before. Previously I’ve been burnt with guys but now I’ve found someone I really care about and have feeling for but I’m just scared of sex. I’m scared people I care about will just use me for sex and in some ways I don’t understand why it’s so important. I know no one will want to date me if I can’t have sex but I have all these feelings of guilt and shame I can’t get past. Maybe you are the wrong people to ask but what should I do?


Hi S,

Many thanks for your email.

It sound as if there are several things going on here, so let’s address them one by one.

Communication is Key

Have you mentioned your thoughts and fears to the person you are thinking of having sex with? This is a good starting point. Perhaps they, too, would rather take things slow. Just getting to know each other better might make you feel more confident about taking another step towards having sex together.

Bad Experiences of Sex

A bad experience can mean a whole number of things and as we don’t know the specific details, it’s difficult to advice on the best way of moving forwards. One option would be speaking to someone who specializes in the subject, like a psychosexual therapist.

Guilt & Shame

You’re not alone in this – most people grow up feeling guilty, confused or shamed around sex, unfortunately. It’s been ingrained in us and it takes time to get past these feelings. The good news is, it’s possible. Again, you may need to see someone professional, like a therapist, but don’t worry – they will have plenty of experience with this kind of thing.

benefit-lubeScared of sex

Are you scared of sex being painful? If so, we recommend spending time relaxing and getting to know your own body. This is a great way of building confidence, and also learning about your likes and dislikes. Start off with just fingers and some lube, exploring as you go.

Also, there is no rule that says penetration is a ‘must’ when it comes to sex. Plenty of fun can be had without anything ever entering the vagina! A woman’s main pleasure center is the clitoris, which is located outside of the vagina. Well, a part of it is, anyway – there is a whole other part located deeper inside the body.

Sex, when done right, should only be pleasurable.

Sex shouldn’t be painful. If it is, you need to consider the reasons why this may be – is there a small tear in the delicate vaginal membranes, for example? Or do you need more time to build arousal? Or maybe your partner needs to file their nails smooth…

Being Used for Sex

It’s near impossible to predict what another person may or may not do, but here’s a thought – what if you do decide to take a chance on this person, and it turns out to be the best thing you ever did? We often regret the things we didn’t do, as opposed to the things we did – because at least we tried. It’s clear you have found someone you really like, so maybe it’s worth risking a little in order to gain a lot?

First Time Sex

There are many horror stories about how awful first-time sex is. Many are too young, mentally and emotionally, and often just want to “get it over with”. Vast quantities of alcohol tends to be involved – this will numb senses, which isn’t helpful. Also, for the reasons just mentioned, many choose to experience their first time with someone they don’t know very well.

You are in a completely different position: you have every chance of making your first time a memory to cherish. When you are ready, so to speak, choose a location that is familiar and comfortable, like your own bedroom. Make sure you are prepared by stocking up on safer sex supplies and lube (you can never have too much of those!) and take things at your own pace.

There is no time limit on first time sex – so take your time…

Best of luck <3

Team Sh! xx

Send us your questions

All names have been changed for the purposes of anonymity