Research-Blog-Post

Research: Does Your Partner Experience pain During P-i-V Sex?

Pain during penis-in-vagina (p-i-v) sex has only received research attention in the last two decades. Within heterosexual relationships, most of this research has focused on women and whilst understanding women’s experiences is hugely important, sex is an interpersonal experience and much less is known about the experience of the male partners.

The aims of this research are to better understand how men make sense of and respond to their partner’s sexual pain; and to increase our knowledge of how men view pain during penetrative sex, how it influences the sexual relationship, the relationship in general and themselves individually.

The research will be used to inform therapeutic practice for both individuals and the couple and enhance support for anyone seeking help.

Participation in this study involves responding to an anonymous online survey.

In order to collect as many and varied opinions, thoughts and experiences as possible, the survey allows participants to answer the questions in their own words rather than ticking boxes.

To take part in this study, you must be:

  • Male
  • 18 or over
  • UK-resident
  • Be in or have been in, a relationship with a woman suffering from pain during penetration (or pain that prevented penetration). The relationship can be current or in the past. The pain must have been present for 6 months or more.

The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete, depending on how long your replies are. At the end of the survey, you’ll be invited to request more information about a potential follow up interview if you’d like to talk more about your replies. 

The survey can be directly accessed through the following link: https://tinyurl.com/mensexperiencesofsexualpain

Confidentiality of all data will of course be rigorously maintained.

Who is the researcher?

Debbie Lovell is a psychology postgraduate student in the Department of Health and Social Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol. She is completing this research for her Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology dissertation project, and the research is supervised by Dr Nikki Hayfield and Dr Zoe Thomas.

Period-Blog-Post

Period power: why ending period shame is up to us

It was a Wednesday in around 2003 when one of our team’s friends returned home after school to find the “Happy Period” cake her Dad had baked her. Absolutely mortified, she was blushing redder than the fake blood dripping off the icing. The secret news of her first period had only been shared with her mother. How she could have let this slip to anyone – let alone her father – was an act unforgivable to this poor twelve-year-old, for three whole days.

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Despite the hilarity of this story we cannot ignore the underlying issue behind her embarrassment. Why are periods STILL so stigmatised? The earliest fossilised sign of human existence on this earth dates back 200,000 years and we don’t think that the process of conception has altered that much over that period…has it? We must be missing something. Lance Armstrong made it to the MOON and back and yet the period still eclipses us. An actual BLACK HOLE has been caught on camera but periods? Nah – can’t talk about it – too much.

Human behaviour is mind-boggling.

Thank God for Bodyform is all we can say. Praise the Lord. After 100 years of period ads, they were the first brand to actually feature menstrual blood in an advert selling menstrual products (see Blood Normal here if you haven’t already). How demonic of them. The innovation of it is almost overwhelming. In a period of #wellness and Fourth Wave Feminism (we’re not even sorry for the pun), it seems that menstruation and its real implications are finally being brought forward as topics open for discussion.

Seriously though, periods in the workplace? Quelle horreur. Say your goodbyes now because you know how awkward it is to come on in the middle of a meeting.

Menstruating in the office requires a great deal of stealth to avoid social embarrassment.

Firstly, you always make sure you’re prepared and you’re wearing the right knickers. Secondly, if you don’t have a sleeve to hide your tampon/pad in then, sorry, but you’re already lost to us. 51% of men apparently think that it’s inappropriate to reference periods in the professional environment; thanks THINX for that. Actually, THINX also wrote a helpful “how to” for trans or non-binary people who battle excruciatingly higher levels of shame around their periods in professional environments.

Rumours are circulating of Western companies following suit of private corporations in India, Japan, South Korea and several more, to introduce a paid holiday for the first day of a woman’s period. This suggestion of a blanket reform is causing controversy. Critics blast it for exasperating a hiring bias against women, encouraging their absence from decision-making in work and supporting the gender pay gap – all this, of course, fails to mention the social or ethical responsibilities of the sharp-suited male figures behind these decisions….

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Still, there is some good news yet. Following the likes of Wales and Scotland, it was announced only this week that English primary schools would be offering free sanitary products to students in a bid to end period poverty. The organisation that pledged to get this act into place, Free Periods, have been fulfilled. Woo!

Not so woo, however, is the fact that the average woman spends £18,000 across her lifetime on sanitary products and we doubt that this figure includes painkillers, hot water bottles and the money lost from time off from work. For this price, you’d be forgiven from thinking that maybe the gender pay gap should be reversed rather than deleted.

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The plight of periods proves to be endless. In the height of our climate change horror, it will not please you (or David Attenborough) to find out how many plastic bags are involved in your disposable pack of sanitary towels (spoiler: it’s four supermarket ones).

We joke, but these problems are all so easily solvable.

Natracare is a menstrual brand dedicated to a plastic-free period via ethically sourced soft cotton tampons. Launched in 1989 by the fabulous eco warrior, Susie Hewson, the sustainable brand has been saving vaginas and planets from chemically-enfused periods ever since.

Menstrual cups are another alternative. Mooncup has been waving this durable flag since 1999. Fun Factory is a more recent producer. These are all made from body-safe silicone, and are designed to last comfortably for a decade.

Periods, unlike what we’ve been conditioned to believe, are not unclean. They shouldn’t require safeword aliases (getting the painters in?) however creative they may be, to save speakers from dying of embarrassment during conversation. According to a study from the American Journal of Psychology, up to 85% of women report experiencing PMS (premenstrual syndrome) whereas only 5% recount having PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). These extreme figures show that there is a distinct lack of information about these two issues: what the difference exactly between the two is and how they are diagnosed. Apparently, if you experience PMS symptoms in the extremity or so much so you find it disabilitating, then you may have PMDD and should go to your GP to get checked out – although no one really knows why it occurs. Endometriosis affects 1 in 10, yet its diagnosis takes on average 7.5 years.

This cannot be the norm: we need more information and more education readily accessible, en masse. We need to start speaking about periods and female or non-binary sexual health. It’s 2019 for God’s sake, we don’t have time for period shame and we definitely won’t get anywhere by hiding tampons in our bras.
Lift-Your-Libido

Lift Your Libido! A Evening with Menopause Expert Becks Armstrong

What do you do when your libido is lacking? Join us at our upcoming event on Thursday 9th of May!

Mindfulness & menopause expert Becks Armstrong will be sharing her tips to help you get your groove back during peri-menopause, menopause and long after your pesky period has finished.

Menopause can play hormonal havoc, and while some of the debilitating symptoms are well documented no one seems to want to talk about what can happen to your libido and if it’s dipped how to find your way back – so let’s talk about sex, baby!

Becks will give you some ideas about why it happens; will give you some tips on ways to help yourself if you’re struggling and also the importance of pleasure as you age.

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Also bringing the heat – for entirely different reasons – will be our very own Renee Denyer, Store Manager & Sexpert right here at Sh! Having battled through her own peri-menopausal symptoms for years, Renee favours an approach that involves water-based lubricants, vibrating toys, and frank vagina talk. Renee will be on hand to offer advice on how to best handle dry vaginal membranes and how to choose fun toys to help keep the pelvic floor in shape and orgasms at peak ratio.


Join Us!

This event is for women only and places are limited.


Learn More About Becks Armstrong & Clarity

Becks-Armstrong-FinalBecks Armstrong is a degree educated women’s health specialist, with 20+ years of senior leadership experience within UK tech start-ups.

As a qualified acupuncturist, traditional Chinese herbalist and doula, Becks has harnessed her compassionate leadership style to operate women’s health clinics in Australia to high pressured Cheif Operating Officer roles with leading, fast-growth UK tech firms.

In 2017, Becks spotted a lack of real and substantive solutions for women going through peri-menopause and menopause. As a result, she created Clarity – a technology solution to improve women’s health through mindfulness, relaxation, and sleep.

The Clarity app features specific content and mindfulness practices for situations that may arise due to menopause like hot flushes, sleeplessness, night sweats and improving a low libido. Such exercises improve the quality of life for users – from better mental health, relationships to performance in the workplace.

Clarity-App-Final-Blog-Post

The Clarity app’s mission is to improve the lives of women – one calming breath at a time.

 

Camden-Market-Vagina-Museum

Florence Schechter Presents: Why The World Needs A Vagina Museum

Did you know that there’s a penis museum in Iceland?  (Maybe a bit far to travel for a look at phalluses seeing as so many just slide into DM’s on a daily basis, but that’s not the point.)

And did you know that there is no vagina equivalent anywhere in the world?

Florence-Schechter
Florence-Schechter – photo by Nicole Rixon

Cue Florence Schechter – superwoman extraordinarie, with a vision of bringing vulvae & vaginas to the world!

She decided to create the world’s first bricks & mortar museum dedicated to vaginas, vulvas and the gynaecological anatomy; the Vagina Museum!

Join us for an enlightening evening of vag-and-museum-talk with the fabulous Florence, where she’ll present a talk on “Why The World Needs A Vagina Museum” and discusses why she chose to set up the world’s first bricks and mortar museum dedicated to the vulvas, vaginas and the gynaecological anatomy, and the strange reactions she’s received along the way.


Join Us!

More About The Vagina Museum

By opening their first premises, the Vagina Museum can host an outreach programme that includes supporting healthy and inclusive sex and relationships education, engaging with doctors and other medical professionals to provide better services and supporting the trans and intersex communities. A packed events programme will include talks, panels, workshops, classes, comedy nights, performances and so much more!

In support of the Museum’s mission, the V.M crew have created an advisory and board of trustees that includes a hugely diverse group of people from all walks of life including medical professionals; scientists; academics in gender studies, literature and history of sex work; curators; activists working in LGBT+ rights, fighting
FGM and supporting people in poverty who menstruate; and sex educators.

Jasmine-Evans---photo-by-Nicole-Rixon
Jasmine-Evans-photo by Nicole-Rixon

But to make this great (and time-sensitive) opportunity a reality, the Vagina Museum Crew need your help to do it and have launched a crowdfunder to make the dream a reality – find out more and donate here > Vagina Museum Crowdfunding.

 

Can yoga really improve your shagging prowess?

Can yoga really improve your shagging prowess?

Yoga is a great way to tone your abs and increase agility. It’s also an ancient spiritual practice, similar to Buddhism, that has been developed and nurtured for over 5,000 years. Roughly translating as “union”, yoga encourages the merging of breath, mind and body. It revolves around the conscious decision of a person to “stay in the moment”. No doubt there are endless benefits of doing so, especially in the age of social media and mobile phones, but today we are concentrating on what yogic practises can do for your sex life.

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Breathe into it

Our team at Sh! love LOVE talking about orgasms. It’s a conversation that is seemingly endless – with so many versions, experiences and preferences to explore. But, what unifies these all together into the actual experience of an orgasm is someone’s ability to fully let themself go. Without being able to do so, an orgasm just isn’t going to happen, love. Multiple factors can contribute to this – the room you’re in, the scent of it, if anyone else is in, if you’re stressed, if you’re tired, if you’re too hot, if you’re too cold…the list goes on.

You need to be able to find a way to unify your mind and body to stay in the present…sound familiar yet? One of the best ways to clear your mind and bring your focus inward is to start with your breath. Pranayama (or essentially breathing exercises) is a big thing in yoga and proves that the majority of people actually breathe inefficiently in their day-to-day lives (though this is a whole other kettle of fish).

To see the difference yourself, close and soften your eyes when laid down or in a comfortable seated position. Ensure your spine is elongated – so if you’re laid down lift your head bringing your chin towards your neck and lower the back of your head back to the floor. If sat, lift up from your sit bones and work those lovely back muscles, shoulders back and chin parallel to the floor. By doing this, you create a clear path for the breath to travel through your body. Now, keeping those eyes gently shut, begin to take note of your breath. Is it shallow? Short? Long? Through your nose or mouth?

When you’re ready, start to deepen your breath on a long inhale through your nose. On your exhale, open your mouth and let out a big sigh (this feels amazing, trust). Do this as many times as you would like before closing your mouth and breathing solely through your nose.

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On your inhale, imagine your breath starting from your pelvic floor and filling up your stomach until it reaches your lower ribs, up to your chest, up to your neck- until you exhale and watch it leave your body from your neck, chest, ribs until it empties out your stomach. Ensure your inhales are as long as your exhales by counting or watching the breath move through the body. As you continue this, there are various methods you can take to focus this breath or energy you feel yourself building toward your orgasmic potentials.

One instance, is to start to bring your attention to your southerly hot spot. Feel the breath originate from there and build a heat. Imagine this heat (you could also envisage a light) rising up through your body as you inhale and releasing on your exhale. Continue to do this whilst focusing on various parts of your vulva/vagina/penis/whatever and you should feel your hand slowly wandering down…which brings us on to our next point.

Meditation

A common belief is that yoga has eight different limbs. Three of these focuses around the act of meditation. It works by shutting off your senses to bring your concentration inside. Yoga and Aryuvedic medicine believe that your body is overflowing with chakras (aka energy centres). There are seven main ones within your body, which happen to be inline with your central nervous system. Your sacral chakra (Svadhistana) is located at your lower abdomen, is assigned the colour orange and governs your sexuality, creativity and self-esteem.

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An unbalanced, blocked or “off” sacral chakra is traditionally believed to manifest as issues with sexual performance such as erectile dysfunction or bladder infections like UTI’s. There are many ways to unblock chakras such as crystal healing, conscious breathing or reiki. One (free) way to do so is via regular meditative practice – similar to the breathing exercise we have outlined above. Decide what time of the day is most convenient for you to practice meditation and do it everyday in the same spot. Just like an orgasm, the context of which you do this is so important. It needs to be regulated to train your mind to shut out all of the distractions. In yoga or aryuvedic practises, they call the interior versions of these your “monkey mind” – i.e. the voice in your head deciding what to have for dinner, whether you are going to walk or get the bus later or if you need to call your mum etc. By regularly practising meditation you learn to ignore this voice, to let these busy thoughts simply pass you by, which is super helpful for when you want to get down and dirty.

You can also stimulate and balance these energy points through various physical exercises, known in yoga as asana.

Lock and load

To achieve the correct posture in asana there are certain “locks” you imagine engaging on your body. We are focusing on the foundation of these, which just so happens to strengthen your pelvic floor. The root lock (mula bandha) involves a kind of “tighten and lift” motion that starts at your genitals and perineum and lifts up to reach your stomach. In other words, re-enact the sensation of holding a wee in. It’s a movement you can do at literally anytime, anywhere. You can do it in a meeting with your boss, at tea with your granny or sat on the bus. No one will know. Plus, a strong pelvic floor is key to unlocking the secret of a great orgasm. It grants you, better control of your earth-shattering orgasms, a stronger sensation and takes care of any pesky leakage. Cue you inner sexual goddess on the prowl.

Asana

To take this a step further, one posture in asana designed to specifically target your pelvic floor is known as bridge pose.

Bridge Yoga Pose

Start lying down on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor a hips-width apart and arms by your sides with palms on the floor (or pressing them together with fingers interlaced). Inhale and lift your pelvis into the air. Imagine there is a rope tied around it and someone is pulling it up in the air like a puppet. Imagine your calves are pulling back towards you whilst your thighs are pushing them further away. Meanwhile, try to hold the bend of your knees directly above your ankles (rather than leaning into each other, which believe me, they will try to). Hold for 5 long breaths and on your last exhale, lower your pelvis back down to the floor.

Bridge pose is also known as an inversion, meaning you’re raising your heart higher than your head. This reverses blood flow and aids circulation throughout your body whilst calming your nervous system. This particular posture is also a back bend, aka a heart opener. Through contracting your back muscles and opening your chest, you work to unblock you heart chakra theoretically opening you up to more receptivity of love and intimacy. Inversions and heart openers are paramount to a balanced practice, i.e. one that stimulates all the chakras in your body and forges a stronger connection between mind and body.

If you are new to yoga or you are experiencing some type of injury, go to your local beginner’s yoga class or speak to a certified teacher before attempting these postures to avoid injury.

Another type of asana posture directly linked to your sacral chakra are hip openers. It is believed that you store a lot of emotion and tenseness in your hips –so after the stimulation of this region of your body, you can be left feeling over-emotional. This is again why your practice must be balanced with the more positive-feeling heart openers and twists (though we will get to these).

prasarita_padottanasana

Prasarita padattonasana is a great hip opener to practice. Stand on your mat in a wide stance with feet facing inwards (so they are parallel to the edges of your mat). Allow a slight bend in your knees or pull them up and straighten your legs. Place your hands on your hips, turn on your mula bandha and elongate the spine from the crown of your head. Inhale and straighten up, then exhale and bend forward from your hips (it’s a nice idea to place your thumbs at your hip crease to feel yourself hinge forward from here). Ensure your chest stays open as you bend forward by leading with your heart rather than your chin. Stay here for 5 long breaths and on your next inhale, return to a standing position.

This posture works like an inversion regarding the encouragement of bloodflow whilst stimulating your sacral chakra and your root chakra (found at your genitals – encourages the grounding/soothing of your mind). I.e. not only are you increasing your strength and flexibility for when you get jiggy, but you’re also prepping your mind to free itself of any outside worries to totally let go.

If you have any lower back issues or pain please do not bend forward in this position.

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Twists are brilliant for strengthening your lower abdomen (oh hello sacral chakra). For a more relaxing, passive version, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. You can put cushions under your knees for extra support if you like or sit on one to elevate your hips at an equal height to your knees. As always, tighten your root lock/mula bandha and inhale to lengthen your spine and open up your breathing passages from the crown of your head. Upon your exhale, place the left hand on your right knee and circle your right arm out towards to right placing it on the floor. As you do this open your chest out to the right, twisting your spine and leading with your chest. This twist happens only from the lower ribs and upwards. I.e., your hips and everything below your lower ribs stay put. You are a Russian doll.

Keep your head in line with your top torso rather than reaching your eyes further around (this will cause your head to turn further and strain your neck). Close your eyes softly if you wish and stay for 5 long breaths. To exit the pose, inhale and twist back to the center. Then to decompress your spine (extremely important after more active twists), turn to your left and gently fold forward for a couple of breaths before returning to center. Repeat on the other side.

Some of the major benefits of twists are that they detoxify your system upon the release of your twist (when a rush of fresh blood floods your digestive organs after being cut off during the twist). They keep your spine mobile and calm the mind, which when practiced regularly with the poses we’ve previously mentioned, will have you in the best mental and physical position to start getting things saucy.

Please do not practice a twist like this if you have any slipped discs or lower back problems. Instead, speak to your local certified yoga to find an alternative.

 

Vaginal-Dryness-Blog-Post

Q&A: Get that ocean back in motion – how to combat vaginal dryness

Hello,

I am in my mid-50s, out of a sexual relationship for over 5 years, and experiencing serious vaginal dryness (PAP smear exams are excruciating.) I am also a sex toy newbie, so I would appreciate advice on what vibrator to use. I don’t have any issues with orgasm — very easy — but I have read that vaginal stimulation/penetration will keep things alive. Your recommendations are welcome!
Many thanks,
J.

 

Hello there,

Thanks for getting in touch! This question is very common and we’ll share our best tips for moistness.

Dry and brittle vaginal membranes are most often associated with the menopause, but dryness can affect women of any age for a multitude of reasons. Common causes are levels of estrogen dropping following menstruation or childbirth, certain medications and bacterial imbalance in your once lush lady parts.

Vaginal dryness at any age is simply no fun, especially when it comes to being intimate. It might feel that your body is shutting up shop without your permission, but there are a few things that you can do to help things along and combat vaginal dryness.

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Bathing

Who doesn’t love a warm bath or steamy shower for two before some hot lovin’? Of course, we all want to be squeaky clean, but bathing just before getting intimate can dry out the vagina and remove any moisture before we’ve even started. Aim to get soapy an hour or two before, as this gives your body time to restore lost moisture to your pleasure palace.

Ditch that Douche!

For some bizarre reason, vaginal douches have made their way over the water from the States and are becoming more popular with women here in the UK. They promise unrivaled cleanliness and vaginal health, but in reality, offer anything but…

Douches can seriously mess around with the delicate bacterial makeup of your lady parts and lead to inflammation and dryness – so send that douche to the bin!

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Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise

We have been slightly skeptical about ‘vaginal moisturisers’ but this all changed when we came across YES Vaginal Moisturiser, an organic and hypo-allergenic gel that works to alleviate dryness and atrophy.
A 5ml application of the iso-topic formula to the delicate inner tissue typically provides a moist, comfortable vagina for up to 3 days – it cleverly releases moisture as and when the vagina needs it.
The gel is completely without fragrance, colour, taste or residue, and contains no parabens, hormones, glycerine or known skin irritants.

Sensual Massage

The more aroused you are, the more likely your body is to respond with silky smooth natural lubricant.

Sensual massage is a great way of stimulating your erogenous zones and helps to form a closer bond with your partner. Opting for a high-quality massage oil will certainly start to get things moving in the right direction! We love the Orgie Sensual Massage Oil which is packed with high-quality ingredients and gorgeous essential oils like Sweet Almond Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Sunflower Oil, and Argan Oil.

A word of warning here: Oil-based products aren’t suitable as vaginal lubricants, so however sensual and sweet-smelling the massage oil is, keep it away from your sensitive foof.

Oil-based products have a terrible habit of clinging to the walls of the vagina, where they trap and harbor bacteria. The bacteria grows, of course, and before you know it, you have an unpleasant itch in your ditch…

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Love that Lube!

Lube should be your number one weapon against vaginal dryness, but it’s essential that you choose the right one. Steer clear of flavoured or heavily scented lubes that can upset your vagina and cause itchiness; choose a water-based, paraben-free lube instead.

The lube we recommend for very dry membranes is Sh! Pure Plus, a viscous water-based lube without parabens. As this lube is extra thick, it creates a lovely “padded” layer between the delicate membranes and the finger/penis/toy pleasuring it, minimising the risk of abrasions.

Use It or Lose It

The old saying couldn’t be truer in this case – keeping the vaginal juices flowing makes for a happy & healthy vagina.

Arousal and orgasm are excellent ways of keeping a steady flow of blood to the genital area and by using internal toys, you’ll keep the stretchiness of the vaginal canal in good shape too.

At the Sh! shop in East London, we measure sex toys for internal use in ‘fingers’, i.e “how many fingers feel just right?” This will help gauge which size toy would work best for you, in terms of girth.

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We’d recommend starting off with a size you know you are comfortable with; choosing a slightly smaller size is more helpful than choosing a girthier toy that could end up being painful to use. Over time, you could introduce a bigger toy if you find yourself lusting for more.

Top 3 Small-Size Internal Vibrators

Remember to add a generous amount of lube to your toy as well as your vagina before insertion – this will make play so much more comfortable.

We hope these tips will help bring back both moisture and comfort! 

Love,

Team Sh! xx

 

 

 

 

Laud your Lady Muff! Why new vaginal trends can harm your intimate areas

Laud your Lady Muff! Why new vaginal trends can harm your intimate areas

We at Sh! like to think of ourselves as pretty open-minded and up-to-date in terms of contemporary feminism. Yet, the other day we were flicking through a magazine aimed at women only to discover an article discussing new trends and tips on weeding and watering your luscious lady-garden. Our eyes were opened to a world teeming with vulval* charcoal masks, vaginal douches and steaming, not to mention the endless number of apparently specialised soaps we should be using. Whoever could have made a connection between vegetables or creased clothes and a human VAGINA had us puzzled. So, we decided to do a little research ourselves on the subject. What we discovered was a plethora of products claiming to promote vaginal and vulval health for a sometimes-hefty fee but have actually been found to cause more harm than good.

Not only are these cleverly packaged products marketed to promote sales, but they do this through “vagina/vulva shaming” with products aimed at “detoxing” or freshening up our most intimate areas. “How dare they!?”, all of our team cried in unison at this revelation (why do we need to be detoxed?). These ideas are notions that we simply cannot accept.

In response, we pledged to try and keep vaginas everywhere happy and healthy to the best of our brand’s ability. Here are a few reasons why you should not be buying into any of these weird trends.

*If you’d like to remind yourself of the distinctions between a vulva and a vagina, it essentially boils down to this – your vulva is the interior (think Changing Rooms) whereas your vagina is the exterior (think Garden Force):

Negative self-image

All these ideas about cleaning and modifying vaginas and vulvae implicitly lead us to believe that our natural anatomy is not good enough as it is. We are advised to steam our uterus’ with delectably-sounding plant-based products such as wormwood or mugwort. This type of steaming, in particular, claims to solve all kinds of issues, from depression and fatigue to infertility and infections. This, for the record, is not true and is no doubt a dangerous claim to make. Vaginas are amazing powerhouses that can provide endless amounts of pleasure to their owners, push out actual babies of and above all, clean themselves. Since when have they ever needed steaming? If you only loved one part of your body, it should be your beautiful, strong and inspirational genitals.

Crazy chemicals

This leads us on to the topic of douching. Many women who preach its benefits claim that it makes them feel “cleaner” downstairs. In actual fact, douching can lead to vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and it has even been linked to cervical cancer.

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Traditionally, douching is done using a mixture of water and vinegar. Yes – vinegar – although we are currently unsure which type is more appropriate? Red wine vinegar? Apple cider vinegar? How about a simple Malt if there’s any left over after you’ve finished your meal from the chippy? We wonder if their appeal presents itself in the same way that your pilates instructor keeps luring you back for more bodily torture on a weekly basis with the tagline, “Feel the burn!.”

From scented sanitary towels, to perfumes, to odorous body washes and lotion, people are obsessed with the scent of vaginas – and changing them. There’s a reason why they don’t already smell of fresh lavender or evening jasmine with the main reason being that you are not flora or fauna. The douches that high street chemists and chains are selling feed off these attitudes. Their contemporary, chemical toolkit to wash your muffkin contains antiseptics and fragrances in a bottle or bag, which you then squat over and spritz up inside of your lower lips. What a magical experience this promises to be.

Unsurprisingly, it is not. The skin around your vulva is different to that of your body. In fact, it is actually much thinner than the skin on your face. Therefore, you are far more likely to cause irritation to it by dousing it in toxic agents that I bet you didn’t read up about when/if you checked the ingredients list on the back of the bottle. Not only are you spraying it onto your exterior skin, but you are shooting it up inside of you where you have a lovely bunch of PH levels that are pleading with you to leave them undisturbed. And with that, we give you cystitis…

Vulva wrinkles???

Similarly to the skin on the rest of our bodies, skin around the vulva can be prone to a range of skin conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis… and apparently wrinkles.

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With this, a new product claiming to tackle these irritations has hit high street shelves – the infrared charcoal sheet mask. You essentially spread the moisturizing mask over your vulva and leave it on for fifteen minutes. This should apparently cool, soothe and ultimately eliminate said imperfections.

How could leaving a damp mask on possibly the most moist and sensitive, exterior region of your body ever sound like a bad idea? Well, because, being damp over a period of time can lead to yeast infections and skin irritations. Plus, there is literally zero research that proves its effectiveness in this.

If you have any irritations or inflammations around your vulva, your first point of call should be a GP so you can find out exactly what it is and how to effectively treat it. If you are worried about any aesthetic variances such as “vulva wrinkles” then why not take a look at Jamie McCartney’s Great Wall of Vagina? His amazing work is body and sex-positive, and lets you look at genitals in their 3D glory.

There are plenty of lumps, bumps and wrinkles on plenty of vulvae and if you find yourself being blessed enough to have them then you should worship every single one. We’re sure that you’ll find this a way more positive activity than listening to the whims of a greedy marketing executive (who probably doesn’t even have a vagina) trying to make you hate every last part of your body so that they can profit off you.

Trust us, your holy mother of vagina will thank you for it!

 

 

 

 

 

Free-Therapy-Blog-Post

‘Couples on the Couch’ – Couples Therapy on TV

Couples on the Couch is an innovative new series for BBC Three, following real-life couples as they bring their genuine relationships to therapists at our specially created relationship clinic. The series will follow their journey through therapy as well as provide genuine take-home advice for people who may well see their own lives reflected on screen and provide them with a framework to help in their own lives.

The sole aim of the programme is to improve people’s quality of life/relationship.

Couples will be offered three therapy sessions – this will all be bespoke and tailored to their individual needs and circumstances. Our therapists have years of experience and we’re looking to create a really positive experience for everyone that participates.

We are looking to hear from people who think they could benefit in some way and might be interested in taking part. We’ve seen on forums online people discussing the effect Vaginismus can have not just on them but also on their relationship – one of our therapists has experience working with clients/couples in this area so we wanted to reach out to your network to let people know a bit about our programme and the help that we could offer.

If anyone is interested in taking part or would like to find out more, please email Gorana.Jelovina@bbc.co.uk or give call/text 07712 872469 – there is, of course, no obligation to take part, Gorana is happy to chat with people and tell them more about the show to see if they think it might be something for them.

Want to take part? Register your interest by emailing or calling Gorana by the 26th of October 2018.

Erectile-Dysfunction-Blog-POst

Erectile dysfunction: What to do (and not to do) if you are experiencing it

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.

Having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily something to worry about. Up to half of all penis-owners will at some point in their life experience erectile dysfunction, and it can be something as simple as ‘brewer’s droop’ causing the lack of firmness  (a soft penis due to a couple of pints too many is jovially known as ‘brewer’s droop’).

If the lack of erection is ongoing, however, it can cause stress, affect self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems, and this is something that needs to be looked into.

In many cases, ongoing impotence is caused by something physical, and some of the most common causes include medication, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking or drinking excessively, high cholesterol or a heart condition.

For some, a soft-on has nothing to do with physical fitness and everything to do with what’s going on inside their minds. Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions are common culprits, as is stress or problems within their relationship.

Here are a few tips on what to do (and what not to do) if you are experiencing erectile dysfunction:

Speak to your GP

If the erectile dysfunction has been going on for a while, it’s time to book an appointment with your doctor.

Whilst you may not feel comfortable discussing your flaccid peen with your GP, please remember that they are a health professional and this is part of what they do.

Your GP will be able to look at your medical history and current lifestyle, and offer you some professional help to get things back to normal. Their main concern will be to get you back to physical and mental peak performance, and a healthy blood flow to your penis is part of this.

via GIPHY

Don’t trust online ‘pharmacies’

Although the first thing you might be thinking of doing is ordering some Viagra to help with the impotence, these little pills can do more harm than good.

Viagra and other erection-enhancing pharmaceuticals coming from abroad aren’t tested for potentially harmful ingredients, so if you’ve got an underlying medical condition that’s causing the problem, putting pills in your system could put your health at serious risk.

We get so many (so many!) calls from guys wanting to purchase Viagra – which we don’t sell – and our response is always the same: Speak to your GP.

If there is a genuine issue, you need a professional to look into it. If you just want something for the weekend, there are creams, gels and lubes to make your li’l dude pop with pleasure.

Talk to your partner

If your erectile dysfunction has come on suddenly, it won’t be long until your partner begins to wonder why you’re shying away from sex. Without knowing the reasons for your reticence, it could be easy for them to jump to the wrong conclusion that you’ve either been getting your rocks off elsewhere or don’t find them physically attractive anymore.

This will ultimately lead to arguments, so talk to your partner, put their mind at ease and allow them to support you while you seek to find a resolution for the issue.

We often say that a man is at his most vulnerable when his cock is hard, but perhaps this is even truer when someone has a penis that refuses to stand to attention. If your partner is experiencing erectile dysfunction, remember to be supportive. The ED is most likely nothing to do with their love or desire for you, so don’t take the soft penis personally.

Introduce some toys

Having ED doesn’t mean that pleasure can’t happen in other ways. There are tongues and fingers, for example – excellent tools when it comes to pleasuring partners! Not everyone is into penetrative play anyway, and there are plenty of other fun activities to enjoy together.

We have several customers who have fully embraced their soft-ons and moved on to introduce sex toy play into their love life instead.

Strap On HarnessOne of our gentlemen customers took the plunge and bought a strap-on for himself and his female partner to enjoy, and they’ve never looked back. They now have an impressive collection of dildos, and she can pick and choose depending on what they’re in the mood for.

A strap-on harness worn by a male-bodied person is most commonly worn above their own package. Some wear theirs sat right on top of their meat & two veg, but this can feel bulky depending on individual build. If you want to try this option, we recommend wearing a pair of tighty-whiteys’ underneath the harness as that’ll help keep the family jewels under control.

Pride-Dildos-For-BlogIt’s important to remember that whilst the strap-on will help you achieve self-confidence and return you to your status of pleasure-giver, the size of the dildo should be chosen by the person on the receiving end. This is not the time to get the 10inch tool of your dreams – trust us on this, some things are just best left as fantasies!

If your partner is comfortable with two fingers internally, for example, that is the size to opt for. If you are unsure, we recommend a visit to our shop and a member of our helpful team will be happy to help find the best size dildo.

 

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