Why It Takes So Long To Get An Endo Diagnosis

Getting an endometriosis diagnosis can feel like waiting for a bus that never comes. It’s a real issue—some folks wait up to a staggering 7 to 11 years for a diagnosis. Imagine dealing with all that pain and uncertainty for so long! The emotional and physical toll it takes is no joke.

The thing is, endometriosis is a medical chameleon. Its symptoms often cross paths with other conditions like ovarian cysts, IBS, and UTIs, so doctors sometimes end up chasing the wrong clues. Plus, the typical tests like laparoscopy, pelvic exams, and imaging scans can be invasive, expensive, and sometimes they don’t even give a clear answer. Talk about frustrating!

And then, there’s the whole societal attitude thing. In a world where women’s health issues often get the brush-off, and period pain is shrugged off as ‘just part of being a woman’, endometriosis hasn’t gotten the attention it desperately needs. This attitude has been a massive roadblock in getting a timely and accurate diagnosis.

So, what can you do? Be your own advocate! If something feels off, speak up. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. And hey, those specialised endometriosis clinics? They might have just the answers you’re looking for.



 

 

What does endometriosis feel like?

The Pain Spectrum
The Cyclical Nature of Endo Pain
When Back Pain Joins the Party
Can Endo Cause Chest Pain? Yep, It Could.
Endo and Irregular Periods: A Messy Affair
Wrapping It Up

Endometriosis is a condition that feels like an uninvited guest causing chaos in the pelvic area. Picture this: tissue similar to the lining of your womb decides to go rogue, setting up shop outside the uterus. And just like an unwanted house guest, it causes a whole lot of trouble.

The Pain Spectrum

Endo pain is not your usual period cramps; it’s like menstrual pain on steroids. It can be sharp and stabbing, or a dull, throbbing ache. People often describe it as way more intense than regular menstrual cramps. And here’s a twist: the pain varies throughout the menstrual cycle, sometimes getting worse right before and during periods.

The Cyclical Nature of Endo Pain

The pain from endometriosis is like a rollercoaster, tied closely to the menstrual cycle. It usually kicks in 1-2 days before the period starts, hangs around during, and even lingers a few days after. Real-life accounts describe this pain as sometimes debilitating, to the extent that it can impact daily life​​.

When Back Pain Joins the Party

Endometriosis isn’t content just causing pelvic pain; it often invites lower back pain to the party as well. This happens because the endometrial-like tissue can affect pelvic ligaments, causing pain that radiates to the back.

Can Endo Cause Chest Pain? Yep, It Could.

Now, chest pain is a rare guest at this party, but it’s a possibility. Thoracic endometriosis can affect the diaphragm or lungs, leading to chest pain or even trouble breathing during periods. It’s rare but definitely on the endo symptom list.

Endo and Irregular Periods: A Messy Affair

Endometriosis can mess with your hormones, leading to irregular periods. It’s like having a calendar where the dates keep shifting. This hormonal chaos can affect ovarian function, causing irregularities in your menstrual cycle.

Wrapping It Up

Dealing with endometriosis is like navigating a maze with unexpected turns. The pain varies in type and intensity, and it can pop up in places like the lower back or even the chest. Add irregular periods to the mix, and it’s clear this condition needs attention and understanding. Remember, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, reach out to your doctor. You’re not alone on this journey! 

 

 

An Introduction: What is Endometriosis?

Prevalence and Healthcare in the UK
Common Symptoms
Signs for Diagnosis
Uncommon Symptoms
Conclusion

Endometriosis is a medical condition that occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus – known as endometrium – begins to grow outside the uterus. So what’s really going on here? 

Well, imagine your body throwing a curveball each menstrual cycle. These rogue cells, chilling outside the uterus, still act like they’re home – thickening, breaking down, bleeding – but with no exit strategy. This can lead to pain, scar tissue, and a host of symptoms that can range from “Ugh” to “Why me?” during periods​​​​.

Prevalence and Healthcare in the UK

Endometriosis affects about 10% of women of reproductive age globally, translating to approximately 190 million individuals. In the UK, this condition is a significant health issue, with numerous healthcare options available for diagnosis and treatment. The National Health Service (NHS) provides guidelines and support for managing endometriosis, and there are various support groups within the country offering assistance to those affected​​.

Common Symptoms

When we talk about the common symptoms of endometriosis, we’re looking at a mix of things that can vary quite a bit from person to person. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Pelvic Pain: It’s usually at its worst during your period, and you might also feel it in your lower back and tummy. Think of it as an unwanted monthly visitor that overstays its welcome.
  • Menstrual Irregularities: We’re talking heavy periods or even surprise bleeding between cycles. Basically, your period starts acting like it’s forgotten the regular schedule.
  • Pain During Sex: Yep, this can happen. It might show up during or after getting intimate, which is a bit of a downer.
  • Pain with Bowel Movements or Urination: These pains often say ‘hello’ around your menstrual cycle, adding another layer of fun to the whole experience.
  • Infertility: Sometimes, endometriosis can throw a wrench into fertility plans.

But here’s a quirky thing: the amount of pain you feel doesn’t always line up with how much endometrial growth you’ve got going on. It’s like your body’s own unique response to the condition.

Signs for Diagnosis

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Endometriosis can throw some unusual symptoms your way – like gastrointestinal issues, lower back pain, and even fatigue. It’s like your body’s trying to tell you something, but it’s speaking in riddles. These symptoms can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed, making it a real challenge to figure out what’s up​​​​. 

Diagnosis often involves a detailed description of symptoms, a pelvic exam, and may include imaging tests like ultrasounds or MRIs. In some cases, a definitive diagnosis requires surgery, such as laparoscopy, where a camera is inserted into the abdomen to look for endometrial-like tissue​​.

Uncommon Symptoms

Endometriosis isn’t always straightforward, and sometimes it throws out symptoms that are easy to miss or mix up with other things. Let’s break them down:

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: We’re talking about things like diarrhoea or constipation, and they tend to show up or get worse during your periods. It’s like your digestive system decides to join the period party.
  • Lower Back Pain: This one can be sneaky because it doesn’t always feel connected to your menstrual cycle, but it’s part of the endometriosis package for some.
  • Fatigue, Bloating, Nausea: These can come along for the ride, too, often getting more noticeable around the time of your period.
  • Psychological Impact: Dealing with chronic pain and the other symptoms could take a toll on your mental well-being, leading to things like depression or anxiety.

These symptoms can be tricky because they’re not the first things you might link to endometriosis. But if you’re experiencing them – especially in tandem with the more common symptoms – it’s worth exploring further.

Conclusion

Wrapping it up, endometriosis is a bit of a complex puzzle, isn’t it? It’s one of those conditions that can really fly under the radar but has a big impact on life. Awareness, catching it early, and getting the right treatment are key moves. It’s pretty crucial to get a handle on the variety of symptoms and to reach out for the right healthcare advice if you think you might be affected.

For those in the UK, there’s a bunch of support waiting for you. The NHS and various support groups are there like reliable friends, offering a wealth of information and backing to help you manage endometriosis. So, if you’re navigating this journey, remember it’s all about staying informed, seeking support, and tackling it head-on. You’re not in this alone!

 

 

Interview with an Intimacy Coordinator

What does an intimacy coordinator actually do?
How long have intimacy coordinators been a thing?
How much agency do actors have over what they will and won’t do on set?
Do you think actors are safer and have more agency on set than they used to?
Are there any laws or regulations around intimacy in film, tv and theatre?
How do intimacy coordinators help with sex scenes?
Obviously people who are having simulated sex on screen aren’t actually having sex, but it can look very real. How do you prevent sexual contact when people look very naked?
Why do you think intimacy coordinators are important?
What shows are you working on at the moment?
References

Did you know the 1964 TV show Bewitched featured the first on screen couple to be seen (shock horror!) sharing the same bed? It may sound weird in 2023, but even couples who were married both in real life and on the screen were traditionally shown in twin beds to remove the connotation that they might be having sex. 

Whilst it’s good that we now live in an age where the realities of life – including sex – can be portrayed on the big screen, filming explicit content is complicated and can be detrimental to the cast if not handled correctly. Stars of Game of Thrones (which first aired in 2011) have since spoken out about the chaos, lack of consent and feelings of overwhelm and coercion that they experienced on set. Power dynamics can make standing up for your boundaries difficult, especially if you’re new to the screen and don’t want to mess up your big break.

Since the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements highlighted the lack of and need for consent and agency on and off set, a new role dedicated to making sure intimacy on screen is handled correctly has sprung up. Welcome to the age of intimacy coordinators!

We spoke to Louise Kempton, an intimacy coordinator, movement director and actor, to find out more about what an intimacy coordinator does.

What does an intimacy coordinator actually do?

Intimacy coordinators are brought on by productions – whether TV, theatre, or film – as movement specialists to help choreograph and support intimate work. The easiest thing to equate us to is stunt coordinators. We have an understanding of the body, choreography and how people work together, and we are there to mitigate risk. 

So with a fight scene, the stunt coordinator makes sure it is done safely, and with consensus and agreement. They make sure it’s fulfilling the creative vision of the director and the cast, but also staying within the boundaries of the actors and their physical capabilities. It’s the same with the intimacy coordinator. We hopefully help produce something that is beautiful, interesting and serves the narrative of the story, but also acknowledges and respects the boundaries of the cast.

How long have intimacy coordinators been a thing?

I think the US has had intimacy directors since 2015/2014. I’ve been doing it since 2019, and that was quite early on in the UK. I suppose it was starting to pick up pace after the Me Too movement.  We haven’t reinvented the wheel: intimacy coordination has developed from directors, movement directors, and stunt coordinators. Many people had been working with these best practices, and doing the job before the intimacy coordinator role was specifically made.

How much agency do actors have over what they will and won’t do on set?

Intimacy coordinators are advocates for the cast and crew, because it can be challenging for them. It all depends on experience, and there is as much power and status as with any kind of job. Sometimes more experienced actors don’t have that power struggle with the directors and producers. 

I’m working with a lot of quite young actors right now, actors who are quite new to TV. I’m that middle person. I go to the production, I talk to the director, I try to understand what their vision is and what kind of story the writer wants to tell. And then I meet with the actors and the cast to individually check in with their boundaries. 

Hopefully, they can trust me enough to be able to say no, because if I’m offering them that no. Lots of coordinators talk about how actors are often yes people. So saying no – or pausing for a moment to think – can be difficult. It’s not necessarily the normal procedure. I hope that we allow actors on set to have advocacy and autonomy over their work.  Sometimes it’s more about facilitating the actors’ conversation with the director, so we’re that person in the room to enable those conversations.  We are there to help nurture that collaborative space. And sometimes we are the third party that they can come to independently. 

Do you think actors are safer and have more agency on set than they used to?

I think having an intimacy coordinator helps promote the agency of the actor before they even get the job.  Actors can ask what intimate content will be in the show. Is there any nudity? Will my character be expected to have sex? They should be able to ask those questions and then really consider if it’s right for them. I really think that we’re making it a safer, more collaborative space for actors and particularly new or young actors. There’s still more to do. There still needs to be more diversity within the community, but it’s growing and it’s getting better. When I first started intimacy coordination in 2019, no one would know what my role was when I stepped on set. Now everyone knows. Just having that understanding of your role is a massive step up in appreciating the work overall. I think it’s definitely improving. 

Are there any laws or regulations around intimacy in film, tv and theatre?

Obviously, for children and young actors under 18, there are certain laws around what they can and can’t do, from how many hours you’re allowed on set to child protection and things like that. 

With regards to adult actors, they have agents and lots of productions have legal teams. I help create nudity riders and simulated sex riders. These riders are normally only written for scenes of simulated sex or sexual foreplay, and degrees of nudity and undress. So for example, an actor agrees to full back nudity, including buttocks and gluteal cleft, and absolutely no frontal genitalia. And you do that for each of the scenes that requires that kind of attention. An actor can sign the rider. 

However, if on the day it feels completely out of their comfort zone, something is triggering them or they’re really not happy, then they can still say no. If we’ve already recorded some content, then the production is entitled to use that content. But you can still say no, and producers and directors should be aiming for an environment in which your cast and company can be saying yes freely.  We may not necessarily have laws, but we’ve got lots of protocols and guidelines in place on how to work.

How do intimacy coordinators help with sex scenes?

So I get sent the whole script of a series or a film, and I go through the script with a fine-tooth comb. I underline, highlight and draw out anything that is deemed as intimacy, from hand holding intimacy to full on penetrative sex.

Intimacy could look like somebody in the shower or sitting on the toilet, it could be people getting stripped down to their underwear – anything that’s beyond the normal, fully clothed person. It’s important to highlight everything and have the conversations to cover all bases. Some productions may just want you for three intense scenes, and other shows may ask you to weigh in on anything that could be classed as intimacy. So I highlight everything. And I go through and outline whether it’s essential, recommended, suggested or cast preference to have support because that’s where risk assessment comes in. 

Depending on how the director works and how the cast want to work, I can be quite involved with the choreography and the movement. In some scenes I’m creating the whole choreography beat by beat. With other scenes I’m purely there to facilitate how they want to work and I’m just the person in the room doing check-ins, so it really varies project to project. Then I’m there on the day of filming just to make sure that everything that is happening is what has been agreed to.

I also help with the set,  so say there’s a scene of nudity in the shower, you need to work out what is in the shot. Is it going to be frosted glass? Is the curtain see-through? Do we know what body parts we’re going to see?  I find all of that out. Then I liaise with the wardrobe department. Are there any modesty garments that need wearing? 

I work with the makeup department if there’s, for example, tattoos we want covered. I’m often in touch with the location department about temperature. If we’ve got scenes outside, are there tents for privacy? Is there any public access? Do we have that cornered off?

There’s lots of things to think about when you’re doing intimate scenes that people might not realise they need to prepare for. There’s nothing worse than setting up for the day and you suddenly go: “Oh, we’re doing this outside scene, but there’s a whole load of houses there, we need to let them know that something’s happening on the lawn at the front.”

Obviously people who are having simulated sex on screen aren’t actually having sex, but it can look very real. How do you prevent sexual contact when people look very naked?

In a scene I was working on recently,  there’s two actors and they’ve got some kissing scenes and a simulated sex scene. In the kissing scene, they are really kissing. There’s lip contact, we’re just not using any tongue. So that is a physical thing that’s actually happening. Whereas with simulated sex, we are finding the physical shapes and finding the physical rhythm. But we will never have genitalia touching.  

How we do that depends on your framing, it depends on the props and the set. Are you in bed? Great! You’ve got covers to cover your genitals, so we can have a cushion or a barrier in between them. Other things are more complicated. So if you’ve got two naked bodies, we have to be clever with body positions, legs, camera angles. They will have a modesty patch at minimum. If they’re under the covers and might be wearing leggings or tracksuit bottoms. 

Why do you think intimacy coordinators are important?

I think they help make really good moments of storytelling, and they also help an audience feel safe. Audiences are savvy now and they know these intimacy coordinators exist. If you’re going to watch a film or programme, you’re sitting there going: “Oh, are they really doing that” and it can be worrying, but then if the audience sees that they’ve got an intimacy coordinator, they feel more comfortable about it somehow, you know. Like people don’t want to watch a real fight. Everyone wants to watch a real good stage fight. You want to believe the actors are acting. We don’t just help the cast and crew, but it’s the audience on the other side when the show is out there to appreciate the craft and skill of an actor and to appreciate storytelling. 

What shows are you working on at the moment?

I’m really proud of a lovely show that’s on Amazon Prime called Fifteen Love. That’s out now, with some fantastic actors.  It’s about a tennis coach taking advantage of his young protege. And about the sort of horror stories that have come up through sports coaches and their and their stars. That was sort of a grey area to do with age, consent and intimate relationships. The whole programme is about their intimacy. So that was a job that I was very much involved in. 

I was also involved in an indie film that’s just come out now called Hoard, directed by Luna Carmoon. I think it’s seriously arty, wicked and something very different to what I’ve worked on before. I’ve had varied experiences with different kinds of intimacy, which is always fun. 

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.

Louise Kempton does not endorse any products or brands.

References

What are period cramps?
How do you help get rid of period cramps fast?
Does heat help with period cramps?
Which sleeping positions can help with period pain?
Home remedies for period pain
When should you see a doctor about period pain?
References

If you’re one of the many people who dread their monthly cycle because of the pain and discomfort it brings, you’re not alone. Period cramps are a common problem that may affect up to 95% of menstruating people at some point in their lives. 

Whilst many people experience discomfort and mild pain, the Women’s Health Concern Factsheet suggests that up to 10% experience pain so severe it disrupts their daily life. The real number may be higher, as some people may feel that period cramps are ‘normal’ or ‘something they need to get over’ even if they are causing significant distress and disruption.

What are period cramps?

Menstrual cramps often feel like a dull, continuous aching in the lower part of your belly, which can sometimes be felt in your lower back and/or thighs. Some people may also experience nausea, headaches, dizziness, shifts in mood and fatigue. These cramps typically start a few days before your period or at the start of your period, lasting for around 3 days.

“Period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, are caused by the contractions of the uterus as it sheds its lining during menstruation,” says Dr. Martha Tara Lee*, a Relationship Counselor & Clinical Sexologist. “The release of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances, triggers these contractions and can cause pain and discomfort.”

It’s hard to quantify what a normal amount of period pain is, as people’s pain tolerances vary. Some people find their menstrual cramps a bit annoying and mildly painful, and they may want to rest more during the first two days of their period, but it’s not enough to cause significant distress or disrupt their regular routine. Other people are in so much pain around their period that they struggle to go to work or socialise, or do the things that they would usually do. 

If your period regularly disrupts your life, you may have an underlying condition such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Your doctor may also want to rule out other potential causes, such as an infection around your reproductive organs, ovarian cyst, an ectopic pregnancy, or possibly certain types of cancer. If you suspect that may be the case, please speak to your doctor. Remember that you deserve to have a good quality of life and you shouldn’t be in significant pain every month. You may find Endometriosis UK helpful for more information and advice about this condition.

How do you help get rid of period cramps fast?

Dr. Martha Tara Lee recommends the following DIY methods of helping to relieve period cramps. 

  • Apply heat: Placing a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower abdomen or taking a warm bath can help relax the muscles and relieve cramps.
  • Exercise: Gentle exercises like walking or stretching can increase blood flow and reduce cramping.
  • Relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga may help alleviate pain and stress.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation and relieve menstrual cramps. Always follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

You may also find massaging your own tummy and back, or asking a friend to do it for you/investing in an electric massager may help alleviate some of the pain.

Does heat help with period cramps?

“Heat can be helpful, for example in the form of a hot bath, hot shower, or heating pad. Weighted blankets can also offer relief,” says Jillian Amodio, a licensed social worker and sex educator.

Applying heat to the painful area can help reduce muscle tension and relax the abdominal muscles, which can minimise pain caused by muscle spasms. Heat can also increase blood circulation around the pelvis, helping to stop fluid retention and lessen swelling, which can also decrease pain.

Which sleeping positions can help with period pain?

Some people may find it hard to sleep during their period. Different things work for different people, so you may want to try a few different positions and see what works best for you. The foetal position, where you lie on your side with your legs tucked towards your chest, may encourage the abdominal muscles to relax and thus can decrease pain. Lying on your side may reduce pressure on your abdomen, and placing a pillow between your knees may bring some relief.  Lying on your back may also reduce pressure on the belly, and may also decrease back pain.

“I suggest sleeping with a weighted blanket or weighted plush on the belly,” says Jillian Amodio. “A pillow under the knees can also ease any cramping felt in the lower back.”

Home remedies for period pain

“Rest can help to relieve symptoms of period pain, but it’s not something that can be remedied fast,” says Juliet Owen-Nuttall, fertility wellbeing practitioner and co-founder of the Non Invasive Method. “Reducing your activities and exercise during your periods can bring relief to symptoms..” 

When should you see a doctor about period pain?

“There is no amount of pain that is too small to see a doctor about,” says Dr Martha Tara Lee. “If you’re unhappy with it, that alone is reason enough to do something about it. If you have severe pain (greater than what taking an over-the-counter painkiller can alleviate), you should definitely be evaluated for conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids.”

You deserve to enjoy your life and not dread your period, so we want to encourage you to see your doctor if your period cramps are having a noticeable effect on your life. We’ve listed some tips to help with period cramps, but please do keep in mind that these may not be useful if you are living with an underlying health condition. 

*None of the medical professionals mentioned in this article endorse any products or brands.

References

Why is September the most popular birth month?
What is it about winter?
Smells like… Christmas?
But I’m not ready for a baby!
What contraception will work best for me?
Which contraceptive is most effective?
What if I do want to have a baby next year?
What should I do if I have unprotected sex and don’t want to get pregnant?
REFERENCES

Have you ever sat and wondered if you’re going mad because seemingly ALL of your friends and family have birthdays in September? Don’t worry, you’re not going mad at all. We’re here to tell you that September is actually the most popular birth month in the UK… and if you think about it, it makes total sense.

If you count back nine months from September, it takes you to December. We guess that’s one way to spread festive cheer! But, seriously, if you’d rather avoid unplanned pregnancy, and don’t fancy becoming a parent right now (or ever), we’d recommend looking into a regular contraceptive method.

Why is September the most popular birth month?

Like we mentioned, it all comes down to the month of conception, and nine months before September is December. Coincidence? We think not! December is a stereotypically happy month and from kissing under the mistletoe to cuddling up in front of the fire, everyone seems to be getting in the holiday spirit.

With its romantic reputation, December has even been shown to be the most popular month to get engaged. So when it’s cold outside and you’re feeling full of love and joy, getting into bed with someone you care about might not seem like the craziest idea after all!

What is it about winter?

Perhaps it’s not just down to the decline in temperature. Psychologists know that the colour red really grabs our attention (think signals for danger, fast food logos, etc.) AND studies have shown that the colour that most heterosexual men and women are attracted to is red, too.

Apparently this is due to it representing status and dominance when worn by men, and for more primal and biological reasons when worn by women. Either way, you can’t deny that red is a colour closely associated with Christmas, so perhaps it’s seeing candy canes, Father Christmas or Rudolph’s nose around every corner that’s getting us in the mood!

Smells like… Christmas?

As if seeing red wasn’t enough to turn us on, there are certain scents that can supposedly also have an effect on our frisky feelings. Pumpkin pie, for example, has been shown to increase blood flow to a man’s nether regions by 30 – 40%! Scientists speculate that this might even be down to the sweet and tempting notes of vanilla and cinnamon, both of which tend to give us all the festive feels.

It’s hard to argue with the evidence that winter has the potential to be a pretty sexy time for a lot of us. Back in 2012, Match.com reported a peak of three million emails sent by users during Christmas week and a Tinder report from 2017 showed an app crash on December 16th with almost half of their users unable to log in.

But I’m not ready for a baby!

That’s OK, too! We want you to be free to enjoy any and all of the festivities you want, without unplanned consequences. Not everybody wants babies – either right now or at all – and we think your choice should be respected. If you’re not looking to get pregnant, you should consider contraception. There are loads of potential options out there, and we’re confident that you’ll find one that works for you.

What contraception will work best for me?

Everybody is different, and so will be our reactions to various contraceptives. Before deciding on a contraceptive method, we recommend doing your research into what might suit you and your lifestyle best. It might be an idea to trial various contraceptives to see how well they fit into your life and routine.

Which contraceptive is most effective?

Contraceptive effectiveness generally depends on how reliably you take or use your contraception. Of course, contraceptives like the IUD, copper coil, injection and implant all work within your body and you don’t have to rely on remembering to take them. When it comes to contraceptive pills, however, it is important to take them correctly. For example, when you take Hana (a progestogen-only contraceptive pill) at the same time every single day without a break between packs, it is over 99% effective at helping to prevent pregnancy.

What if I do want to have a baby next year?

Yay for you! If you want to start a family in the new year, you’ll need to start thinking about how you stop taking your contraception. If you’re using a progestogen-only pill, you can just stop taking it. That’s the great thing about the mini pill – you can start and stop whenever you want. Your fertility should return to normal fairly quickly, so make sure you’re putting extra precautions in place (like using condoms) if you’re coming off the contraceptive before you want to get pregnant.

Of course, fertility is different for everyone. If you have any questions or concerns about your own fertility or how long it might take you to get pregnant, we recommend speaking to a medical professional, like a GP.

What should I do if I have unprotected sex and don’t want to get pregnant?

Like we said, the holiday season is brimming with festive joy, and you might find that your social calendar is considerably busier than usual and your schedule may be disrupted. Between that and trying to remember exactly which scented soap your nan likes best, contraception might slip your mind and you could experience contraceptive failure (forgetting to take your pill or the condom breaking) or even just make a human error. Accidents happen, and nobody is perfect!

In this instance, you can seek out the morning after pill. There are two types of morning after pill – those containing levonorgestrel and those containing ulipristal acetate. ellaOne, a ulipristal acetate-based emergency contraceptive, is 2.5x more effective than levonorgestrel and can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex and purchased online or over the counter in a pharmacy. It’s worth remembering that ellaOne is more effective the sooner you take it.

We do not recommend the morning after pill as a method of regular contraception. If you are trying to avoid pregnancy, we think it might be a good idea to look into other potential contraceptive options.

Find out more about Hana, a progestogen-only contraceptive pill.

REFERENCES

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/articles/howpopularisyourbirthday/2015-12-18

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181204-best-month-to-get-engaged-married-pregnant-and-divorced

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/scientists-reveal-the-colour-that-makes-you-more-attractive/SKBVBKQVEP76PH5QA527VTBRE4/

https://aanos.org/human-male-sexual-response-to-olfactory-stimuli/

 

Hana® 75μg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age and people with uteruses to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.

What is asexuality?
What are some reasons you might be lacking in sex drive (apart from asexuality)?
Can you increase your sex drive?
How do I tell my partner about my lack of sex libido?
References

From our thoughts to our body parts, it’s ironically very normal to worry that we’re not normal. Whilst many of us grew up watching sex scenes pretty much exclusively showing people who find it very easy to get into the mood, jump straight into penetrative sex and enjoy it from the get go, the reality is that everyone’s experience of libido is different – and that your sex drive (or lack thereof) can fluctuate over the course of your life. 

In a recent survey of over 2,000 women, trans and non binary people, we found that the majority (50%) said that in an ideal world they would have sex a few times a week, and 18% said they would ideally do it once a week. Whilst 67 (3%) people said they would ideally do it more than once a day, 48 (2%) said they’d ideally never have sex.  

When asked how often on average they were having sex, 35% said they were doing it a few times a month and 24% a few times a week. One hundred and seventy two (8%) said they were never having sex compared to just thirty three who said they were doing it at least once a day (1.6%). 

What is asexuality?

Our survey shows that people vary wildly when it comes to sexual desire and sexual practice. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with not wanting to have sex very often or not wanting to have it at all: it’s your life, and what makes you feel comfortable and fulfilled is what matters. 

Asexuality is a sexual orientation where the person feels little or no sexual attraction. Twenty one  (a little over 1%) of the people we surveyed identify as asexual, which is in line with how many people in the general population are estimated to be asexual. Asexuality is a spectrum and can look different for different people. 

The asexual spectrum has two orientations: sexual orientation and romantic orientation. One person may identify as asexual and feel no sexual desire, but still experience romantic love and seek out romantic partners. Another person may identify as aromantic but experience sexual desire and seek out sexual partners. Other people may feel sexual arousal but prefer self pleasure rather than partnered sex. There are also demisexual people who need a close emotional bond to experience romantic and sexual attraction, and graysexual and grayromantic people who experience sexual and/or romantic attraction sometimes or under specific circumstances. 

You don’t need to experience sexual or romantic attraction to live a whole and fulfilling life. A lack of sex drive is only an issue if you feel that it is, for example if you want to have a higher sex drive and feel like you’re missing out if you don’t.  If you are used to experiencing sexual desire but feel that it’s been lacking lately, then you may want to explore possible reasons for it.

What are some reasons you might be lacking in sex drive (apart from asexuality)?

“Libido or sex drive can be affected by how women feel about themselves and how they feel about their vaginas,” says Julianne Arena, MD, FACOG, ABAARM and Cliovana Practitioner (double board certified physician)*.  “This leads to the next layer – how they think about their partner and relationship, then lifestyle factors as simple as how much sleep they get. Add on fluctuating hormones throughout a woman’s life, stress, anxiety, and other health issues, and there are numerous challenges to achieving a healthy libido. The vital thing to note is that things can be done to increase sex drive, and with a multi-pronged approach, libido can be addressed.”

Everyone can experience changes in their sex drive over time. Women and people with uteruses may find that their sex drive is affected by their menstrual cycle, menopause, if they are pregnant and other life changes. 

“Hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle may affect your sex drive,” says Julianne. “Oestrogen levels drop when you’re on your period and slowly rise during the follicular phase, which causes a spike in libido. About two weeks later during ovulation, testosterone and oestrogen levels are at their highest and get you in the mood for sex. Post ovulation, these levels drop and can decrease your sex drive.”

Some people find that certain medications, such as anxiety and depression medication, can have an effect on their sex drive. Some people may find that taking hormonal contraception affects their libido, although others may experience no change. If you feel that your libido has decreased since taking birth control and it’s been longer than a few months (as it can take a little while for your body to get used to the medication) then speak to your doctor or pharmacist. 

“For women going through perimenopause and menopause, the impact on their sex drive can be profound,” says Julianne.  “During the years leading up to menopause, a woman’s body begins to make less oestrogen, progesterone and sometimes testosterone. This hormonal imbalance can cause her to experience symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, sleep problems and mood swings. The fluctuating hormone levels that occur around menopause can trigger a variety of behavioural problems, including depression and anxiety. Studies show that these issues are related to oestrogen and progesterone deficiencies; when oestrogen levels decrease significantly, it can cause an imbalance in the brain’s chemistry that results in negative thoughts or feelings, and a decreased sex drive as a result.”

Sometimes your lack of sex drive is affected by your life circumstances or relationship changes. It makes perfect sense that if you are going through a rough patch with your partner and you are feeling less intimacy, connection and/or emotional safety that you may feel less sexual desire. You may also feel less sexual desire if you’ve been in the same relationship for a long time and you’re feeling over-familiar or bored – spicing things up, trying something new or even having sex in a new location can help if this is the case. Stress, anxiety, depression, drugs and alcohol can also reduce your sex drive. 

Can you increase your sex drive?

To reiterate, you don’t need to increase your sex drive unless you want to. If you would like to experience more sexual desire, you may find it helpful to speak to a doctor who can help rule out any underlying factors which may be affecting your libido. From vaginismus to things like an underactive thyroid, it can help to get medical intervention. You may also find talking therapies beneficial, as there may be an underlying psychological block around sex that you may be able to explore with a professional. 

Kegals (pelvic floor exercises) can improve blood circulation to the pelvic floor and vagina, which may increase arousal and lubrication. “Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy involves working with targeted exercises that can help your pelvic muscles relax and get stronger, which can help to relieve pain during sex,” says Julianne. “Painful sex hinders sex drive, so it is key to address the pain in order to improve the drive. Additionally, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can improve blood flow to the genital area and enhance sexual pleasure. Kegel exercises, which involve contracting and relaxing the muscles around the vagina, can be beneficial.”

If vaginal dryness is making sex uncomfortable or unpleasant, you may find using lube helpful. Remember that oil based lubes can make condoms more likely to break, so use water based lube if you are using barrier protection.  Stress management, exercise, better sleep and drinking more water could also have a beneficial effect on your libido.

How do I tell my partner about my lack of sex libido?

It’s not uncommon for partners to have different levels of libido, and for one partner to desire sex more frequently than the other. Honest, non-judgemental communication is really important in these situations, so that neither party ends up feeling shamed or unheard.

“Feeling connected to your partner is crucial for feeling “in the mood,” says Julianne. “Date again, invest in talking, practise other acts of intimacy like kissing and focus on affectionate touch. Strengthening the emotional and physical connection can then help boost sex drive. If it is difficult to communicate about sex, ask your doctor for a referral to a health professional who specialises in sexual dysfunction. Sex is a mind and body experience; opening up with a partner and discussing barriers is integral to getting to a place of fulfilling sex for women.”

When thinking about libido, it can be helpful to think about whether you and your partner(s) experience more spontaneous or responsive desire.  People with spontaneous desire may spontaneously get in the mood without the need for build up, whereas people with responsive desire may be more likely to want sex if sexual intimacy has been initiated. People with responsive desire may be less likely to initiate because they are less likely to be spontaneous in the mood. It can be helpful to talk to your partner(s) about how you experience desire so that you understand each other better and are less likely to take things personally.

“When discussing matters of intimacy with your partner, honesty and open communication are crucial,” says Julianne. “Share your feelings and experiences honestly. Explain what you’ve observed about your libido and how it’s affecting you. Reassure your partner that this is not a reflection of their desirability or attractiveness; reiterate your love and commitment to the relationship. Avoid blaming or criticising; focus on your feelings and experiences rather than assigning blame. Discuss possible solutions together if you’re comfortable doing so; this might involve seeking advice from a healthcare professional, trying new things in the bedroom, or finding ways to increase intimacy in non-sexual ways. Remember that this conversation may be challenging for both of you; approach it with empathy, patience, and willingness to work together towards mutually satisfying solutions.” 

Remember that everyone is unique. Your experience of sexual desire may change over the course of your life and may be different with different partners. A lack of sexual desire is only an issue if you think it is, so before panicking consider how important sexual desire is to you; not everyone wants to have sex, some want sex less than others, and that’s perfectly okay.

*Julianne Arena does not endorse any products or brands.

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.

References

What is vaginismus and how can it affect your sex life?

What are the symptoms of vaginismus?
How common is vaginismus?
What causes vaginismus?
How can vaginismus affect your sex life?
How do you treat vaginismus?
References

Whilst you might be used to calling it a vagina, the external part of the female reproductive system is actually called a vulva. The vulva is connected via a muscular canal to the neck of the uterus, and this canal is called the vagina. It’s like a tunnel that connects these two parts of your anatomy. 

Vaginismus refers to an uncontrollable, automatic reaction when something – maybe a penis, a tampon, a medical device or all of the above – attempts to penetrate the vagina. It’s not a conscious thing that you’re willing yourself to do – it’s an automatic response that is outside of your control.

“Vaginismus is a condition that causes involuntary muscle spasms or contractions in the pelvic floor surrounding the vaginal opening, which can cause sexual intercourse to be painful or even impossible,” says Dr. Dayananda, OBGYN*. “Along with intercourse, the use of tampons or undergoing a pelvic exam can also be painful or impossible due to vaginismus. This condition is complex in that its root causes can be both physical and psychological depending on the person.”

What are the symptoms of vaginismus?

Dr. Martha Tara Lee*, D.H.S., M.A., M.A., B.A. (she/ her), Relationship Counselor & Clinical Sexologist, describes the typical symptoms of vaginismus:

  • Pain or discomfort during attempted penetration.
  • Inability to insert a tampon, finger, or penis into the vagina.
  • Fear or anxiety related to penetration.
  • Tensing or tightening of the pelvic floor muscles during attempted penetration.

There are two main types of vaginismus. “Primary vaginismus occurs when a person has never been able to have penetrative sex due to the involuntary muscle spasms. It can often be present from the first attempt at penetration. Secondary vaginismus occurs when a person develops vaginismus after a period of pain-free penetrative sex. It may be triggered by factors such as trauma, infection, childbirth, or menopause,” says Dr. Martha Tara Lee.

How common is vaginismus?

Around one in ten women in the U.K experience some kind of pain whenever they have sex, and around 75% of women will experience painful sex during their lifetime. It’s hard to tell exactly how many people have vaginismus, as some may feel too embarrassed to come forward for treatment. 

Many people with vaginismus have a positive response to treatment, although it’s important to remember that it can take time.

What causes vaginismus?

It’s unclear what the exact cause of vaginismus is, and it may be different for different people – especially as some may have experienced vaginismus since their first attempt at penetration and others may have developed it later on. 

“The causes of vaginismus can vary and may include physical, psychological, or emotional factors,” says Dr. Dayananda. “Some common causes include past traumatic experiences, anxiety related to sex or penetration, cultural or religious beliefs surrounding sex, and certain medical conditions such as infections or endometriosis.”

Vaginismus is usually linked to fear around having sex, but it can be hard to tell whether the fear or the vaginismus came first – if the vaginismus came first then a fear of penetrative sex makes perfect sense if the only types of penetrative sex you’ve had have been painful. Some people experience vaginismus with all penetration, whilst others may experience it in specific cases – i.e. with one partner but not another, or only with penises but not with tampons or medical devices. 

How can vaginismus affect your sex life?

As vaginismus can make it uncomfortable, difficult or impossible to engage in vaginal penetration, this can affect some of the types of sex you may want to engage in. Whilst some types of sex involve penetration, not all of them do and you can enjoy a fulfilling sex life without including it. Vaginismus doesn’t usually affect someone’s ability to enjoy clitorial stimulation, and it doesn’t mean the person experiencing it does not enjoy sex or has a low sex drive.

Before trying to ‘fix’ vaginismus, we encourage you to spend some time thinking about what types of sex you want to have, why you want to have them and what is and isn’t important to you. It’s your body and your choice.

How do you treat vaginismus?

“To get diagnosed with vaginismus, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional specialising in sexual health, such as a gynaecologist or a sex therapist,” says Dr. Martha Tara Lee. “They will conduct a thorough assessment that may include a physical examination, discussion of symptoms and medical history, and ruling out any underlying medical conditions. It is important to remember that every individual’s experience with vaginismus is unique, and treatment approaches may vary. Working with a healthcare professional who specialises in sexual health can provide personalised guidance and support throughout the treatment process”

When being treated for vaginismus, your doctor will first try to rule out other causes for pain around penetration, which could be caused by vaginal atrophy, where a lack of oestrogen makes the lining of the vagina thinner and dryer, or vulvar vestibulitis, a condition which causes painful sex. The doctor may conduct a pelvic exam to confirm that your vaginal muscles are spasming. Remember that you deserve to feel comfortable and safe, so if you’d prefer, check in advance if you can request a female doctor, and let the healthcare professional know if you have any concerns or if they can do anything to help make you feel more comfortable.

 

It is important to remember that every individual’s experience with vaginismus is unique, and treatment approaches may vary.

Treatment could involve working with a physical therapist to do things like pelvic floor exercises to gain more control over your muscle spasms, and/or therapy like CBT, sex therapy or longer forms of self exploration where you can explore and address any underlying fears, shame, beliefs and so on which may be contributing to the physical reactions. Treatment options may include:

  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises: A physical therapist can give you exercises (which you can do at home) with the aim of slowly helping you learn how to control and relax the muscles around your vagina.  The exercise regime usually involves kegels (where you squeeze the same muscles you would use to stop peeing) to help you explore and get more used to controlling that part of your body.
  • Gradual desensitisation: This is where you slowly start inserting things (perhaps a finger or a vaginal dilator) to get to know what happens when you attempt penetration and learn ways to potentially have a different response. 
  • Therapy: Working with a therapist or sex coach can help you identify and work out any underlying psychological or emotional factors that may be contributing to your vaginismus, such as anxiety or past trauma.
  • Education and communication: Learning about sexual anatomy, arousal, pleasure, and effective communication can help you be seen, heard and feel safer with your sexual partner(s).

Many people with vaginismus have a positive response to treatment, although it’s important to remember that it can take time. Remember that you don’t need to have vaginal penetration in order to enjoy a fulfilling sex life, and just because treatment options are available doesn’t mean you necessarily have to try them. Make sure that you’re doing it only because you want to, and know that you can stop at any time. There are many ways to enjoy sex, and the right people will work with you to find what is good for everyone involved.

*The healthcare professionals cited in this article do not endorse any products or brands.

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.

References

How can exercise affect your menstrual cycle?

Exercise and your period
Exercise and missed periods
Hana contraceptive pill and periods

You may have noticed that your menstrual cycle can have an effect on your day to day life, depending on which part of your cycle you are in. Some days we may feel overwhelmed, tired and a bit emotional, while on others we’re full of energy and ready to seize the day. Your menstrual cycle can also affect both your desire to exercise and what kinds of exercise you may feel drawn to. 

There are four phases of your menstrual cycle, and each can impact how you may be feeling: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. During the follicular phase, you may have an increased libido, due to the high levels of oestrogen, while in your luteal phase, you may feel a bit more irritable and down and experience some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, due to low levels of progesterone. 

Research has found, up to 90% of women experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can be as simple as moodiness or headaches for some, but so severe for others that they miss work or school. There are numerous well known benefits to regular exercise, including weight loss, increase in stamina, better sleep, strength gain, reduced stress and improved overall well being. But did you know that exercise can also affect your menstrual cycle? 

Exercise and your period

Exercise on your period has been shown to be beneficial for a number of reasons. Some women and people with uteruses experience painful cramps just before and during their period, and regular exercise can help to reduce them. The main reason believed for this is due to the endorphins and pain-relieving hormones that are released during exercise. 

This is why exercising during your period can help boost your mood and counteract the fatigue you may be feeling. This could be from something as simple as going for a walk or doing some yoga, or something more high impact like going for a run or weight lifting. As with anything else, listen to your body when exercising on your period and do what feels right for you. There are very minimal risks when exercising on your period but it may be helpful to adjust your regular routine during this time. 

Some of the risks are as minimal as struggling with endurance; research has found that women who had already ovulated but not yet started their period had a harder time exercising during hot and humid weather, while other risks are more minor, such as bleeding through your protection. When exercising it may feel like you are bleeding more than usual, but this is just caused by the body’s movement causing blood to exit the uterus faster.

If you’re keen to exercise on your period it can be helpful to take some over the counter pain relievers, which can help to ease cramps. You should also make sure you stay hydrated and, of course, remember to bring period protection with you. 

Throughout your menstrual cycle, it’s likely that your energy levels will fluctuate  due to the changing hormone levels during your cycle. On the first day of your period, your oestrogen and progesterone levels are at the lowest, and begin to gradually rise throughout your cycle. In the first couple days of your period you may feel fatigued or low on energy due to the decrease in oestrogen levels, so this may not be the best time to work out.

As a result, some may find it easier to get active and be motivated at other times of the menstrual cycle, such as, around the third week, right before ovulation, when oestrogen levels are at their peak. Tracking your cycle, your energy levels and your workouts can be a great way to know when in your cycle you are feeling your most energised.  

Exercise and missed periods

Over-exercising and not fuelling your body properly can cause lighter or irregular periods, or even make them stop altogether. Exercise is good for you, but suddenly starting a vigorous fitness routine and low-calorie diet puts strain on your body that can cause periods to become irregular or stop altogether. This is called ‘exercise-induced amenorrhea’, where, in response to the stress your body is under, the hypothalamus (a part of your brain) begins to stimulate the ovaries less. 

A regular period can be a sign that your reproductive health and a hormonal balance are in good shape. If your period begins to change – as a result of exercise or otherwise – it is recommended to speak to your doctor, as this can lead to more serious health problems such as anaemia or loss of bone density. 

It is sometimes common for athletes to have irregular or missed periods due to the intensity of their training programs and hormonal and bodily changes they go through, especially in preparation for performance. When thinking about team sports and female athletes, it’s not unusual to wonder – if they are following the same training programme and are constantly around each other – whether their periods sync up. You’ve maybe even wondered if your menstrual cycle syncs up with your friends. 

As far as we know, there is little to no evidence that women or people with uteruses can disrupt each other’s cycles. As the average menstrual cycle is 28 days, it’s not unlikely that your period will come at the same times as those around you sometimes. Whatsmore, you’re more likely to remember the times you and your friends do sync up than the times you don’t. 

Hana contraceptive pill and periods

We know that exercise can affect periods but you may be wondering how birth control, like Hana®, affects your periods. When taking a desogestrel contraceptive pill like Hana®, not everyone reacts the same. Around 20 to 30% of users may experience more frequent bleeding when starting a desogestrel contraceptive pill, while 20% of those taking pills containing desogestrel, like Hana®, may experience a light bleed a bit like a light period, or amenorrhea, where periods stop altogether. This normally subsides after a few months, but if you are concerned you may want to speak to a doctor or pharmacist for advice. 

Progestogen-only contraceptive pills like Hana® should be taken non-stop, without a break between packs. This may mean that your periods could change in frequency or that you no longer get your periods, which is one of the most common side effects when taking progestogen-only pills. As your body gets more adjusted to this, your periods may come back after a few months or they may not – it varies from person to person. It’s important to remember that no form of birth control is 100% effective and having no period could also be a sign of pregnancy. If you feel you are showing symptoms of pregnancy, you should take a pregnancy test as this is the only way to know for sure.

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.

 

Premenstrual symptoms — severity, duration and typology: an international cross-sectional study 

Lorraine Dennerstein, Philippe Lehert, Torbjörn Carl Bäckström, Klaas Heinemann 

Physical activity and your menstrual cycle

Office on Women’s Health  

Hana SmPC – date of last revision of text July 2021

5 Ways to Transform Your Sex Life

5 Ways to Transform Your Sex Life
1. Communication is key!
2. Love yourself, first
3. Try something new
4. Work on your intimacy
5. Prioritise pleasure
References

Are you just starting out on your sexually active journey? Enjoying the ‘no strings attached’ life? Married with three adorable but very noisy children?

Regardless of what type of sex you’re having right now, have you ever sat and wondered how it could improve? If so, you’re not alone! A 2018 study of 6,000 people found that just under half (45%) of adults in the UK are unhappy with their sex life. Perhaps you’re looking to get down to business more, or maybe just feel less self-conscious between the sheets. We think a healthy and happy sex life is something to be proud of, and definitely something to actively seek. Here are 5 ways to transform your sex life…

1. Communication is key!

Probably a bit cliched at this point, right? But we really can’t stress enough the importance of open and honest communication. When asked about advice for healthy and happy sex lives in our recent survey, one of our most popular responses was around the importance of communication*. It’s totally normal for two different people to have two different libidos, and sometimes they just don’t match up. It can be a bit of a mood killer AND a dent to the ego being rejected by someone you’re trying to seduce, but we’d like to think that a gentle conversation about how you’re both feeling might help alleviate such a situation. It’s vital to remember that communicating your wants/needs, likes/dislikes and advocating for yourself if you’re ever feeling uncomfortable is so important. It is our number one piece of advice for an improved sex life, and relationships in general.

2. Love yourself, first

It’s always going to be easier for someone else to get you off when you know what works for you. Otherwise you might find your partner fumbling around for what feels like forever with no real indication or helpful guidance of what might/might not be working! We’re not opposed to a little ‘self love’, and invite you to try it too. We think there’s something special about the idea of romancing yourself – whether that be spending time alone, standing in front of the mirror and affirming what you like about yourself or masturbation itself. Being in tune with your body and able to work out what feels good and right and sexy should improve your self-esteem and will hopefully make all the difference for the future of your sex life – both with yourself and others!

3. Try something new

This doesn’t necessarily have to mean jumping from vanilla to the deep end of kink, but sometimes it helps a little to step out of your comfort zone and, through some trial and error, maybe find something else that you like. We must reinstate the importance of communication here, because you should only ever partake in what you’re comfortable with. Trying something new could be treating yourself to a new toy for some special solo play, adding some bondage and/or blindfolds into your session, or experimenting with power play. It could be inviting a new partner into the bedroom or giving roleplay a whirl, or it could be seeing how a new position feels. Whatever works for you and your partner(s).

4. Work on your intimacy

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – intimacy is about so much more than sex! Intimacy is a really integral piece of partnership, but it’s a common misconception that it can only be achieved through sex. Intimacy can come and be improved upon by doing lots of different things – spending quality time together, kissing and cuddling, making each other laugh and having fun! We don’t doubt that once your intimacy reaches a new level, so will your sex life!

5. Prioritise pleasure

We are BIG advocates for sex being pleasure focused rather than goal driven. Frustratingly, 60% of the people we surveyed said they had faked an orgasm*. We can’t help but think how different our sex lives could be if we stopped putting quite so much onus on the destination, and instead just relaxed and enjoyed the journey. 

It turns out the Big O isn’t the be-all and end-all, after all! We think sex should be all about doing what works and feels best for you and sometimes the pressure that comes with ‘finishing’ steals everyone’s focus and, as a result, pleasure becomes less of a priority. It’s normal and sexy to just have sex because it feels good. It doesn’t always have to come with a climax, and that shouldn’t be a marker for whether or not the sexual encounter was successful. Did you have fun and enjoy yourself, regardless of whether or not you experienced an orgasm? That is success in itself.

We hope these tips give you some ideas for what you might be able to do to help improve your sex life, whether that’s with yourself or someone else. We’d also like to remind you that whatever your sex life looks like – either right now or months from now – is completely valid and should be respected. Full consent is mandatory in all sexual encounters and you deserve to feel confident, seen and sexy between the sheets.

 

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.

*Based on a Hana® 2022 survey of 2,000 18-54 women, trans and non-binary people living in the UK

References

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/08/05/sex-survey-reveals-half-of-people-unhappy-with-sex-lives_n_7939598.html#:~:text=You’re%20Not%20Alone…&text=If%20you%20haven’t%20had,sex%20in%20the%20past%20month.

Hana’s Big Sex Survey Data Results

https://uk.style.yahoo.com/sex-orgasm-gap-men-women-faking-112035811.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvLnVrLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAHX2K9NRiR2S0NjJ5X7-LQFVXmjEeQo6Dt8Vx7NHYH_8vgWCCqNKC3e7g4zaGYX_3eatkm8UUcusalLkYdtLIP7F1H0gjS7RSVLdVSg0FSRT7keSFBk-WKMduTSrVcxoy6CiaksazDiiesBISe4tDqP2ZjWIr0p1-VRYTJt2AMZQ