VQ blog

VQ: A Women’s Health, Sex & Pleasure Shop

As part of International Women’s Day celebrations this month, we are thrilled to be part of VQ, a one-day pop-up sex & health shop taking place in Birmingham on Thursday 22nd March.

Vagina Quotient, or ‘The VQ,’ will bring together some of the country’s best female-led independent sexual health businesses and organisations to Birmingham’s city centre, providing a fun, safe and sex-positive space for women of all ages and backgrounds, to learn and talk about their sexual health and wellbeing needs.

A UK first, academics at Birmingham City University are opening a pop-up sex and health shop as part of IWD. The project is co-led by Dr Annalise Weckesser, a medical anthropologist whose research explores issues of gender and health, and Dr Keeley Abbott, a critical social psychologist who specialises in sexuality, gender and sex education.

Many products available at the VQ are only available online; the pop-up shop offers visitors an exclusive chance to see these products in-person and to learn more about them from the experts:

  • Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium, the UK’s longest running, multi-award winning female-focused sex boutique from London will be around to talk sex and sex toys, and we’ll round off the day with one of our popular erotic classes.
  • OMGYES – trial  (or even purchase!) this research-based app (championed by actress Emma Watson) that teaches different techniques women use to find pleasure.
  • Precious Stars – check out these eco-friendly reusable sanitary products – a social enterprise started by Bryony Farmer who runs a popular YouTube channel on menstrual health for young people.
  • A unique opportunity to take part in an original art piece with Kaye Winwood Projects:  make a cast of your hands in the positions you use to masturbate. Anonymised casts will be used to make a display representing the diversity of women’s pleasure techniques (we love this!).

Come to a Sex Class!

For one night only, Team Sh! will spread their message of sexual empowerment and pleasure to the women of Brum!

Enjoy a guided tour of pleasurable peaks and orgasmic delights. Learn how to locate and stimulate the G-spot, and how to tell the time on your clit-clock. Learn about anatomy, hot spots and female ejaculation.

We’ll finish with Q&A session so you can ask any questions you have about increasing your orgasmic ratio.

Full of practical advice and sexpert tips, this class is playful whilst still providing insight and information. You’ll leave feeling inspired and empowered, ready to take charge of your next orgasm.

Book your ticket to our one-night-only sex class in Birmingham here. 

Pouring Bubbly

 

Win Prizes!

A raffle will also be taking place on the day which includes prizes such as limited edition Eros candles, gift vouchers, Spa vouchers and a voucher for two macaroons and a glass prosecco for two people at Miss Macaroon’s patisserie in Great Western Arcade.

Miss Macaroon

 

Donate Sanitary Products!

Donations of sanitary products will be collected on the day for The Bloody Good Period and Homeless Period.

Bloody Good Period

Here’s What the Organisers Have To Say

Dr Annalise Weckesser, Senior Research Fellow at Birmingham City University, said:

“We have communication taboos around menstruation, sex and menopause in Britain. Time and again, research shows that this silence and stigma leads to negative consequences and health risks for girls and women.”

“With this initiative, our hope is to create a space for open conversation where we can help begin to break down these taboos.”

Visitors to ‘VQ: A women’s health, sex and pleasure shop’ can speak with sexual health and women’s health experts while they discover and purchase unique sex and health products.  Such products include the latest sex apps and toys, alternative sanitary products (period pants, mooncups and more) and aids for menopause.

Dr Keeley Abbott, Lecturer, Birmingham City University, added:

“We rarely talk about the sex and relationship education needs of adults.”

“We need to start discussing the needs of women, and in a way that acknowledges desire and pleasure. We want to hear about women’s sexual, menstrual and reproductive health needs.”

James Roberts, centre manager at Great Western Arcade, said: “We are always eager to partner with unique events and refreshing projects, and this is no exception. VQ is a fantastic initiative and serves as a great way to push the boundaries surrounding women’s sexual needs. We are really looking forward to welcoming VQ and its visitors to the arcade.”

 

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?

Wrong.

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

Water

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.

Saliva

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 advice@sh-womenstore.com 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: I always get thrush after oral sex?

Q&A: I always get thrush after oral sex?

 Hi! I always get vaginal thrush after oral sex. Do you have
anything to prevent it? Thanks!

W.

Hello there,

Many thanks for your email.

This is an interesting question, and we think many will be surprised to hear that yes, oral sex can bring on an unpleasant bout of thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection caused by a tiny micro-organism and is transmittable, i.e can be passed from one person to another.

Thrush likes warm, moist places and therefore grows quite happily in the vagina, under the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis, and also in the mouth and throat.

If thrush has been passed on during oral sex (mouth and tongue licking and kissing the genitals of a partner), it may indicate that the giver has oral thrush. This can be a sign on an underlying medical condition and recommend that both partners get tested and treated to avoid reinfecting each other. Also, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene to prevent further infections, and make sure any vaginal yeast infections are treated early. It can also just be that saliva upsets the balance of the vagina and can lead to issues.

Another thing to consider is lubricant. Do you usually use a lube which contains glycerine? If so, we recommend switching to a glycerine-free lubricant.

Flavoured lubes are great fun for oral sex, but they often contain glycerine to help create a sweet-tasting fluid which isn’t great for the vaginal PH.

Sliquid Natural Swirl flavoured lubes swirl-flavoured-lubesare vegan and glycerine-free, making an excellent choice for tasty fun.

Probe Lube is flavour-free, if you’re not keen on having a banana-flavoured muff. This PH-neutral lube contains grapefruit-seed extract which helps counteract thrush. Something to bear in mind too!

A personal tip from a member of Team Sh! is to rinse the outside of the vagina with salty water if you begin to feel a little itchy. Lukewarm water with a pinch or two of table salt in it often does the trick. 🙂

We recommend using condoms when performing oral sex on a male partner or dental dams when performing oral sex on a female partner.latex-dam

Or if analingus/rimming is on the cards, whatever the gender of the partner. This will also help prevent other STD’s that can be transmitted through oral sex, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes.

We hope this helps! If you have any other questions send them to us at advice@sh-womenstore.com. If you would like advice from Psychosexual Therapist Sarah Berry include the subject line ‘Ask Sarah’

Best Wishes, Team Sh! xx

 All names have been changed for the purposes of anonymity. 

Q&A: I think I have vaginismus? What now?

Q&A: I think I have vaginismus? What now?

Hi Sh! Team,

I find this really difficult and awkward to talk about but I’m guessing you are probably very used to it. I went through an almost 2-year long dry spell before meeting my boyfriend. When we first started having sex it felt uncomfortable and painful.  He’s definitely on the bigger side but I thought I would get used to it, however instead it has gotten worse. I don’t think I have ever had this happen before. From what I have read it sounds like vaginismus.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I know I should probably see my gp about it but I’ve previously had bad experiences with NHS services especially where mental health and other delicate matters are concerned. I’ve recently had a check up as well as an STI test and there is nothing wrong physically.

Do you have any advice on how to work on this? I’m worried it’ll get worse and don’t know what to do.

Many thanks,

A.

Dear A,

Thanks for taking the courage to write in. I understand that medical professionals can sometimes be dismissive of mental health issues. Their first call is usually to keep people alive and fertile. But there are some good places out there; it can take a bit of shopping around till you find one.

Many hospitals have sexual health clinics, so you might want to try there.

Ask them if they have heard of vaginismus. It can be a way of gauging what they know and how they feel about psychosexual issues.

In the meantime, there are certainly things you do on your own and with your fella to help. From your letter it sounds like this could be an arousal or performance anxiety issue that has possibly led to a vaginismic response.

You haven’t said much about your relationship and how you feel about your two-year dry spell. It could be that you were lonely and finally meeting a lovely chap who you want to do saucy things with has put a lot of pressure on your bits. Or that, if he is a lot bigger than you’re used to, you and vagina got a bit freaked by it.

Either way, if you have penetrative sex when you aren’t fully aroused – so if your vagina isn’t lubricated, open and you ready for sex – then it will hurt.

If you then carry on having sex, it could be that your Kegel muscles are spasming in a vaginismic way because they are protecting you from pain.

Have you talked to your boyfriend about this? If you are open about the fact that you have been sore, then you can agree to both take time touching, kissing and having a sexy time so you feel more relaxed and ready for penetration. And some sessions where penetration is completely off the table could help you have fun without worrying about.

vaginal-dialator-setIf you are aroused but still sore during sex, you can try inserting fingers, vibrators, dildos or Sh!’s marvelous vaginimus kit.

Start with something smaller and build up to insertibles that are the same size as your boyfriend. Depending how difficult you find this – it may make you feel anxious – will dictate how long to do this for. You may insert the smaller toy a few times a week for a few weeks and build up. Or it might be that, away from the pressure of sex, bigger devices go in easily.

During sex, even if you’re aroused, it’s hard to tell if a vagina is open or not without putting something up it. If you insert the device, or fingers, just before you have sex – this can even be a fun part of foreplay – you will know if you are ready. If it feels tight but goes in without pain, your vagina will settle to accommodate the insertible. Otherwise you could try a smaller one and build up.

Masturbating while having sex can help you and your vagina to stay relaxed. Also you might both find different positions cause less pain. It isn’t clear exactly how big your boyfriend is but if you find that you can’t take his whole length, he could insert the tip and then either of you could masturbate the shaft.

Do let us know how you’re getting on and consider coming along to our Vaginismus Awareness event in September. I wish you lots of luck!

 

Best wishes,
Sarah

 

Have you ever experienced pain during sex?

Have you ever experienced pain during sex?

Please take a second to take our Vaginismus survey.

PLEASE SHARE … and share again, so we can get a more accurate idea of how many women are really affected by this condition.

Vaginismus is an issue we’ve talked about a lot about…

But we’re talking about it again because it is still one of the most common issues we hear about from you.

“Vaginismus is the term used to describe recurrent or persistent involuntary tightening of muscles around the vagina whenever penetration is attempted.”

The symptoms include burning or stinging pain upon penetration, as well as intense fear or loss of desire when penetration is attempted.

It is a complex psychosomatic condition, and the causes can be varied, such as a painful first intercourse, sexual abuse, fear of pregnancy or a deeply rooted belief that sex is wrong.

According to the most widely available statistic vaginismus affects around 2 in every 1000 women. But we don’t think that number seems high enough. It’s difficult to judge exact numbers because embarrassment often stops women from seeking treatment.

We’re also holding a vaginismus awareness day on the 15th of September, please get in touch with us at advice@sh-womenstore.com if you’d like to be involved.

Thanks

Team Sh! xx

 

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Guest Blog: FPA – Good Sexual Health for All

Guest Blog: FPA – Good Sexual Health for All

By Natika Halil, Chief Executive of the sexual health charity FPA

Why should a sexual health charity

In the summer of 2015 we launched FPA Pleasure to tie in with our 85th birthday.

At the time, some people asked if selling and talking openly about sex toys and all things pleasure was a departure from our normal work. We found this a bit of a bizarre question because sexual health isn’t just about avoiding ill-health. It’s not all about contraception or sexually transmitted infections.

Sexual health is a part of our overall health and wellbeing, and sexual pleasure is as important an aspect as any other.

When FPA first formed as the National Birth Control Council in 1930, there were just 20 family planning clinics. Evidence-based information and open discussion about sexual health was practically non-existent.

We have come a long way since those days in terms of sexual and reproductive health, but we’d be kidding ourselves to think we’re now all completely comfortable talking openly about sexual pleasure. And that’s not to mention sexual pleasure between people of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

Of course the same is not true for everybody. Lots of people are confident in their sexuality and enjoy buying and using toys to enhance their pleasure. Shops like Sh! have been brilliant for presenting sexual pleasure from a woman’s perspective and putting toys in a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

Sexual wellness and sex education.

But with our education system in the UK, it’s no wonder lots of people still aren’t that comfortable talking about what goes on between the sheets. Regardless of whether you left school five or 50 years ago, chances are what passed as sex and relationships education left something to be desired.

Young people are taught about prevention – how not to get pregnant, avoiding sexually transmitted infections, and recognising unhealthy or abusive relationships – but how often do we talk to teenagers about the fact most sex is not for reproduction, but for intimacy, desire and pleasure? And how likely is it that masturbation would be covered in class?

If they can’t get honest and accurate information from their friends and family, where will they turn for their education – the internet? Media? Pornography? The explosion of technology and instant access to anything and everything online has had many advantages, but for young people using it to make sense of sex and their sexuality, it can be a source of confusion and anxiety.

Sexual wellness for all.

And of course sexual pleasure doesn’t fall off a cliff once we get into middle-age, but sex in later years is not always acknowledged. At FPA Pleasure we talk about people’s sexuality across their whole life. It’s especially important that women, as well as men, are supported through changes to the body that come in later years, which can have a huge effect on sexual desire and libido.

While we want our information to be widely accessible to women and men of all ages and backgrounds, we are particularly mindful of people who aren’t usually targeted in sexual pleasure, or indeed wider sexual health, messaging. These also reflect our wider work as a charity, supporting people with learning disabilities, people living with HIV, women during pregnancy and after they have had a baby, people living with or recovering from life-changing or life-limiting illnesses.

Sexual pleasure is important and we shouldn’t trivialise the impact it, or lack of it, can have on our wider health and wellbeing.

FPA

Sexual Health Week

Using Sex Toys Safely

Sexual Health Week is upon us, and as always, we’ll be doing our bit by separating facts from fiction. We’ll share information on how to choose sex toys wisely, how to keep your bits & bobs bacteria-free, and we’ll also squeeze in a shortie about sexually transmitted infections. Highlighting sexual health is important for so many reasons.

Did you know that sharing toys with a lover could mean ending up with an infection? Or that forgetting to wash your favourite vibrator could have dire effects on your vagina? It’s true.

Today we are focusing on how to use sex toys safely. It might sound self-explanatory, but ask any A&E nurse and you’ll find they have a long list of things gone wrong during play time.

We’ve all heard about the light bulb that disappeared up someone’s bum, or the vibrator that was sucked up…still vibrating. Most recently, a story about a toy dinosaur being removed from a lady’s  cave made the rounds on social media.

These stories may elicit a giggle from most of us, but we guarantee the person who ended up in A&E didn’t think it much fun. Such trauma is enough to put anyone off toys for life!

First rule of safe sex toy play:

Use toys that have been designed for what you have in mind. Light bulbs may look enticing, but you’ll regret it. Likewise wine bottles (ouch!), coca cola cans (really?) or fish (borderline bestiality).

We have heard the most horrendous stories of things gone awol inside a person and we can’t stress this enough; it’s a lot less embarrassing to go to a sex shop to purchase a sexy toy than it is to go to A&E with a spatula up yer bum…

Butt Plug 2
Butt Plug 2 £19

Use Anal Toys Safely

We’re going to start off with anal toys as this seems to be the most popular orifice for inserting a wide range of unsuitable things.

Anal play is a whole lot of fun – as long as you play safely. The anal muscle is stronger than you think, so ensure any toy used for anal teasing or insertion has a flared base or handle.

Our range of handmade silicone butt plugs are perfect for safe anal play. The plugs have all got wide bases, meaning there is no chance of them getting sucked into the rectum. Start off with small-size butt toys, and add a generous squirt of a thick anal lubricant for comfy, pain-free play. The anus isn’t self-lubricating so added lubrication to keep all moves sensual, smooth and pain-free is essential.

Vibrator Safety

Sh! Easy Egg
Sh! Easy Egg £22

Some vibrators, like Sh! Easy Egg bullet vibrator, are designed for external use only. Play with the softly textured egg on your nipples, labia and clit, but avoid slipping it inside. The main reason for this is removal: you’ll have to pull on the cord to remove the egg and over time,  this will weaken the connection. This will not only shorten the life of the vibe, but also put you at risk for internal scratches and difficult removal.

Tip: if you do want to play with  a bullet style vibe vaginally, we recommend slipping it into a condom first. You can then pull on the condom for easy removal without damaging the cord – or  more importantly – your delicate parts!

If you want a toy that can be used for safe insertion, we have a stunning selection of G-spot vibrators and Rabbit-style vibrators to choose from. These toys have been designed for internal play.

Waterproof Sex Toys

Some vibrators are 100% waterproof, some are shower-proof and others not safe for use in the water at all. If you like to splash around in the hot-tub full of bubbles (who doesn’t?), make sure your vibrator is waterproof. Always check the instructions before submerging.

Safety with Rechargeable Toys

Rechargeable sex toys are fabulous, but you need to pay attention when plugging them in for a boost. Use only the correct charger, and make sure to unplug when done.

Also pay attention to voltage – make sure your toy is compatible with national voltage. Espesh important when going abroad!

sexybattery-aaa
Sexy Batteries £4.50

Batteries – power up your toys safely

Using the right kind of batteries for your toy is imperative. Protect and prolong the life of a cheaper-style vibe with low-power batteries like Panasonic. Or even better, stock up on Sexy Batteries, which are designed specifically for sex toys. Extra power but kinder on motors!

Don’t mix new and old batteries, and always remove batteries before storing your toy.

We know of one woman who chose to go against advice when it came to storage, preferring to carry her favourite vibe in her handbag at all times. She eventually ended up with an overheated vibrator and the batteries caught fire – on public transport!

Safe Sex Toy Materials

Whilst we don’t sell the, lots of sex toys are made from  Jelly, which to a greater or lesser degree has been softened with Phthalates – a type of chemical which has raised heath concerns.

There has not been much research on Phthalates in sex toys but our advice choose body-friendly materials for your play things. Above all other materials, we recommend silicone.

Silicone is hypo-allergenic, non-porous and phthalate-free. It’s super easy to keep clean and you can even sterilize non-vibrating silicone toys for sharing and ultimate safety.

Vibrators made from Elastomer TPR/TPE are a great alternative to Jelly as they are Phthalate-free, but they are likely to be porous, so better to not share these toys or cover them with a condom if you do…

Other super-safe materials are solid glass and stainlesss steel, but these hard and inflexible toys are more of an acquired taste.

Cleaning Your Sex Toys

Yes, you do need to wash your sex toy.  Regularly. Not cleaning your toys will ensure that bacteria grows, causing all sorts of itchiness in delicate areas.

Use a special sex toy cleaner, or wash with antibacterial hand wash and hot water.

Leave them to air dry ( drying them with a towel or tissue could leave tiny particles which you probably don’t want transferred to your muff) and store them in a clean, dark place, away from other toys ( direct heat, sunlight or proximity to other sex toy materials can cause strange melting/fusing  to sex toy surfaces)

We don’t recommend storing any sex toys, including those made of leather, such as strap ons or bondage gear, in a sealed plastic bag, as this doesn’t protect them but actually creates a culture-growing environment. A  cardboard storage box or fabric bag is better – let your sex toys breathe!

Sh! Pure Lube £10
Sh! Pure Lube £10

Lube

We always advocate for the use of lube, but it’s equally important to choose the right lube for both you and your toy.

Water-based lubricants are  body-friendly and usually our first choice. They are often very similar to your natural juices in consistency, with no scent or flavour. If you are concerned by parabens, choose a Praben-Free Lubricant or if you are prone to thrush, opt for a Glycerine-Free Lube.

Silicone-based lubes are great for when you need long-lasting glide, but the downside to these lubricants is that they’ll damage the surface of silicone toys. Silicone-based lubes are best left for skin-on-skin play.

Playing Safely with Temperature on Sex Toys

Putting toys in the microwave to “warm them up” before inserting isn’t a good idea. Neither is putting them in the freezer and then directly on to the delicate skin of your down-belows.

If you like to play with temperatures, there are much safer ways: warm toys by rubbing back and forth in your hands, run under warm water or cool by leaving in the fridge for an hour or two.  Or, go super-safe by warming or cooling the lube instead of the toy…

Review: Lelo Luna Smart Bead

Review: Lelo Luna Smart Bead

I have been a fan of doing pelvic floor exercises ever since I realised that strong vaginal muscles equal strong orgasms, long before I actually needed to do them. I’m forever banging on about the importance of doing regular kegel squeezes, and in this instance I practice what I preach.

Doing your squeezes benefits not only in a pleasure sense but also in a “business” one. As in, it takes care of business.

A strong pc muscle offer more control, which in turn help take care of accidental leakage. Running around after kids, enjoying a good belly laugh or a surprise sneeze can all have damp, inconvenient effects in the gusset area.

I usually use weighted balls for my pc exercising as I find the additional weight is good for toning, plus it can be really good fun with the ball/s rubbing up against the G-spot whilst doing housework.

I had heard there was a new, cool kegel exerciser in town – and a vibrating one at that! – so I jumped at the chance when my Boss asked I wanted to try one for testing purposes.

But as soon as I had Luna Smart Bead in my hand, I had several questions:
  1. What’s with the “belt” half way down the shaft?
  2. Why is Luna Smart Bead battery operated?
  3. Why is  Luna Smart Bead so expensive?
  4. Why isn’t Luna Smart Bead remote controlled?

In my opinion, these are all design flaws. I think Lelo has run with a great idea and released it out on to the market  long before developing it to its full potential  – Luna Smart Bead is not yet where it could be. Or should be….

 

Here’s the low-down:

LELO_Femme-Homme_LUNA-SMART-BEAD_product-1_deep-rose_0Like all other Lelo products, Luna Smart Bead is made from super-smooth silicone and thus feels great to touch.

Despite the soft, sensual material, I recommend adding a good measure of waterbased lubricant before inserting the Smart Bead. Trying to insert it without the added lube will ensure a tight, uncomfortable squeeze and nobody wants a sore muff…

The bottom part unscrews in order to slip in 1 x AAA battery and when you put it back together again,  you are left with a small, white “belt”. Like an indent.

This indent is hard to clean and whilst the Smart Bead is waterproof to the depth of 1 meter; lube, juices and water can – and do – sneak inside. Because of this it’s best to separate the two parts, and remove the battery, before cleaning. Make sure both parts are fully dry before assembling again.

Covering Luna Smart Bead’s entire body in silicone and making it a rechargeable product that doesn’t need taking apart would easily take care of this problem.

All other Lelo luxe products are rechargeable, which is one of their main selling points. Luna Smart Bead is battery operated, but the price (around £70) is high-end and what I’d expect to pay for a rechargeable vibrator.

The Price is an Issue.

For the price, the customer isn’t getting much to be honest. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s silicone. Yes, it’s Lelo. But it’s still a product that runs on 1 x AAA battery, which in the world of sex toys isn’t all that.

Luna Smart Bead emits a gentle vibration, and for me personally, the vibration is far too low for any kind of pleasure.

In comparison, our Mini G-Spot vibrator, which also takes 1 x AAA battery, has several settings to choose from, is made from silicone and retails at a fabulous £18.

Making the product rechargable would also improve the intensity of the vibrations, ensuring that Luna Smart Bead could be used as a sex toy. We are all for multi-tasking products!

A Good Reminder

Luna Smart Bead is perhaps best aimed at those who forget to do their pelvic floor squeezes and need a gentle reminder (albeit from within!).

There are 5 cycles to work through, each harder then the last, and Luna Smart Beads remembers which level you are on. As your muscle strength improves, Luna Smart Bead takes you up to the next level.

The Smart Bead emits a low vibration in a pre-programmed pattern, and this is your cue to squeeze your pc muscle. This can easily be done in front of the telly of an evening.

It’s like having a personal trainer for your vagina!

Better Control

LELO_Accessories_REMOTE_product-1_cerise_2xLastly, I’d like to see a remote controlled version of Luna Smart Bead. This would allow the user to start, or finish, the exercise at their leisure.

As it is, you slip in the egg and then wait 30 seconds for the exercises to begin.

Should someone step into the room at this point, you have no way of switching Luna Smart Bead off – this could lead to all manner or fun/not-so-fun situations!

A remote control would also let you control intensity manually, which would be great if you wanted to use Luna Smart Bead as a sex toy.

All in all, Team Sh! have unanimously agreed that Luna Smart Bead with its tricky leakage vs cleaning issue and over-pricedness won’t make it on to our cherry-picked product list.

For now, we’ll be sticking with weighted love-balls. Sorry Lelo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

advice unable to orgasm

Lymphoedema & Sexual Health

Lymphoedema is an important issue that we think should be talked about much more than it is, particularly the often-ignored fact that it can impact people’s sexual health and sexual happiness.  

We were recently contacted by Debbie at Chronic Oedema Service in South Devon, who was keen to ensure that she and her co-workers were, in their capacity as health care workers, offering the best possible information about sex and sex toys to patients.

Debbie explains why it’s so important that nurses have the tools and training to be able to openly discuss sex and intimacy with patients

….whether they are experiencing Lymphoedema or any other mobility-affecting condition:

Assessing and addressing sexual concerns

It may or may not come as a surprise to know that many healthcare workers feel nervous about discussing sex and intimacy with their patients, this can mean that patients and their partners are unable to share concerns about sex and intimacy. In the Chronic Oedema (CO) Service at Rowcroft Hospice, South Devon we became aware several years ago that when patients did feel brave enough to share their worries about sex and intimacy, we felt embarrassed and ill equipped to answer questions.

This started us as chronic oedema and Lymphoedema nurses, on a journey so that we could learn more about sex and the individual ways people seek to meet their sexual needs and need for intimacy with others.

We developed a course of in-house training to illustrate the diversity of sexual experience and equip our nurses with some skills to help people; one of the things we learned from our early experience and that we have learned in the ensuing years is how little we know about normal sex (whatever that is) and particularly how sex brings people pleasure in terms of the link between the body and the brain.

We decided early this year to run a new study day: Assessing and Addressing sexual concerns.  One of the aims of the day was to introduce our learners (healthcare workers) to the anatomy and physiology (A & P) of sexual pleasure and we wanted to do it in as fun a way as possible!

That is where the Sh! came in…

Feelz Finger Toys £15
Feelz Finger Toys £15

With the assistance of Aphra and Renee, we used a selection of “Sh!” gadgets and gizmos including the Tenga Cup, Monkey Spanker, strap on dildo toys and finger tip vibrators to talk about what people like to do together or alone.

We were able to talk about where and what the various bits of male and female anatomy are and how they work as well as what turns on the links between body and brain!

People learn more when they are interested and enjoying themselves; talking about the science of sex while using the Sh! toys to illustrate (and sort of demo but not quite!) meant we had the groups full attention.

There were lots of questions about how to introduce the subject of sex and intimacy in the patient consultation and assessment for Lymphoedema; in the CO service we have a leaflet that is given to our patients to let them know that even if the feel shy about sharing concerns on the first visit to the clinic, that we are happy to talk about sex and intimacy should they want to.

Sex toys were designed for practical purposes as well as fun and pleasure; a high proportion of people struggle to achieve the level of sexual pleasure and intimacy they would like because of changes in their body shape or function caused by injury, disability, ill health, disease or just plain not having knowledge about sex and the mind sex link; sex toys can help make up for “deficits” and add some “value added” to their sexual performance.

As healthcare workers for example, we could see how the shape of the US Tenga Cup would help men who wanted to have solo sex but had problems with grip or hand function to masturbate and have an orgasm.  Learning about the importance of clitoral stimulation for women who want to have an orgasm helped us to talk about how vibrators that work on the outside rather than inside the vagina may be the best tool for the job!

Vibrators are great for penile pleasure too; the frenulum (the band of tissue just below the head of the penis is full of nerve endings.  Massaging it with a vibrator may literally “hit the spot” for some men.

One of the things we also learned because of our association with Sh! was that sex toys are legitimate, main stream and perfectly acceptable additions to the other things that we may keep in our handbag or bedside cupboard that as healthcare workers we can signpost patients and their partners to; working in partnership with

Sh! has helped make us more “people aware” and open to new ways of helping others in our capacity as healthcare workers.

NB. Chronic oedema is swelling that has persisted for more than 3 months.  The most widely known type of chronic oedema is lymphoedema following cancer treatment notably breast cancer treatment however other types of cancer treatment can cause swelling because of damage to the lymphatic system.  Chronic oedema is not curable; we aim to help patients manage it effectively to reduce the swelling and other associated symptoms.

Thanks to THE LYMPHOEDEMA SUPPORT NETWORK

LSN Logo Registered charity No. 1018749

The Lymphoedema Support Network:  www.lymphoedema.org

Guest blogger: Debbie Shrubb, Development Facilitator, Chronic Oedema Service South Devon

advice safe sex

National HIV Testing Week

In 2010, an estimated 91,500 people were living with HIV in the UK. Of these, around a quarter were unaware of their HIV infection.

The overall proportion of people living with HIV in the UK is estimated to be 1 in 650; with the proportion of men living with HIV in the UK is estimated to be 1 in 500, while the proportion of women living with HIV in the UK is estimated to be 1 in 1000.

So, why is it so vitally important to test for HIV as soon as possible?

The sad fact is that hundreds of people a year die because they test for HIV too late. The earlier you know you have the virus, the more you are able to do about it to ensure you stay healthy and get the medications you need. If caught early enough, most people with HIV can have the same life span as someone without the virus. It’s also important to test as soon as possible because HIV treatment reduces your ability to pass along the virus to others.

Pasante Naturelle Single Condom
Pasante Naturelle Single Condom

Ways of contracting HIV are HIV can be passed on through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. The most common ways HIV is passed on are:

– Sex without a condom/Dental Dam with someone who has HIV

– Sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment

– A HIV-positive mother can pass the virus to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding if the right steps to prevent infection are not taken (the steps that can be taken to reduce the possibility of the child contracting HIV to less than one per cent, include giving the mother and child anti-retroviral HIV drugs, delivering the child by Cesarean and not breastfeeding)

You cannot contract HIV through sharing utensils, kissing/cuddling, coughing/sneezing/spitting, toilet seats, pools, saunas etc.

To keep yourself safe and minimise the rise of catching HIV or any other STIs/STDs, always use a condom when having vaginal or anal sex. You also may want to use a condom or dental dam during oral sex. We carry a wide selection of condoms and dental dams here at Sh!, so you can find the right ones to suit you!

If you use needles/syringes/piercing or tattoo equipment for whatever reasons, then make sure they are sterile and have not been used by anyone else.

It is completely free for everyone to get tested for HIV in England and many clinics now offer rapid testing where they use a finger-prick or saliva to determine your HIV status. There is a 4 week window between contracting the virus and it being detected by testing, but it is still important to go straight to your GP/Sexual health clinic for help and advice.

Be happy, stay safe and look after your sexual health.

 

 

For more information on HIV/AIDs:

Terrence Higgins Trust
HIV Aware
National AIDS Trust

Statistics taken from the National AIDs Trust website.