Couples Counselling and Sex Therapy

Darwin, Northern Territory based Relationship Counsellor and Sex Therapist    

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Top End Relationships at Risk.

Posted on 21 November, 2016 at 1:35 Comments comments (0)

 

Doing the work that I do as a couples counsellor and sex therapist, I am privileged to have an insight into the private lives of couples and individuals. Since moving to the Northern Territory I have noticed that the issues I am seeing are specific for this location due to the nature of the work. FIFO workers, Inpex project workers and high levels of Blue Collar labour and Defence mean that more and more men, (mostly, I acknowledge woman work in these areas too), are exposed to difficult working conditions over long periods of time. In 2015 several news articles reported on the fact that several workers have completed suicide in the three years Inpex has been in operation. There were no accurate numbers on workers who have attempted suicide or developed mental health issues. Often incidents are not reported or linked to employment factors.

In an ABC article written by Felicity James on October 27th 2015 Brian Wilkins the Unions NT Secretary commented that there needed to be a more preventative approach to support workers and their families. The article reported that at its peak, up to 8,000 people are employed on the Inpex project, with FIFO workers staying at a 3,500 bed camp in Darwin's rural area.” A staggering 30 percent have mental health issues. Prevention could be better achieved if certain resistance to seeking help could be challenged. This would mean breaking down stigma’s and addressing work culture. Fostered attitudes such as “suck it up mate”, fear of reprisal and losing their income, isolation, and a mental rationale where they tell themselves “this is not forever, best to just push through for now”, all create barriers for men to seek support.


The WA report, “The impact of FIFO work practices on mental health” in 2015 acknowledged that relationship stress and strain contributed to poor mental health. The rates of divorce were higher than the general population being 1 in 10 workers. Dr Simon Byrne Psychiatrist told the committee that a staggering 80 percent of workers who have attempted suicide or self-harm such as an overdose had a preceding event linked to their relationship.

Workers don’t need to be told this stuff, they live it. They need to acknowledge when there is an issue and to seek help.

The common trends I have noticed in counselling are:

- Lack of positive anticipation for their partners sexually

- Exhaustion and frustration leading to more anger and conflict

- Emotional disengagement

- Sexual dysfunction such as low desire or erectile dysfunction with partners.

- In some cases a lack of communication or real understanding of the work stresses by partners

- Possible lower Testosterone levels due to challenging environmental factors.

These issues and others can be dealt with through counselling. When the job is done, what’s next? Will they be with their family or alone? My message is to all the partners, workers and defence members to invest in their future by investing in their relationships.

 



 

Don't Loose Hope! - vulvodynia and vestibulodynia

Posted on 29 October, 2016 at 8:40 Comments comments (0)

Reading stories and listening to clients who suffer from pelvic pain of vulvodynia is always heart wrenching. Most seem to have the same experiences of not being believed, by their partners and even their doctors! Most have been sent off for testing for STI’s. While it is best to eliminate this option most woman are very in touch with their bodies and were left untreated and humiliated.

Women have spoken about their sense of hopelessness and shame. Their fierce frustration when not believed. How the burning and stinging cut like a knife, to be told “if you not in the mood, you just had to say so”. Their self-esteem was now linked to being defective and sexual failures made them feel less of a woman. “Who could love me like this?” said a client once, “I know he will leave”. Her pain was far more than physical. Another young client, desperate to make her husband happy, suffered endometriosis, vestibulitis, as well as vaginismus. She had never known what pleasurable sex was. She was re traumatised each time she endured the extreme pain to try and keep her marriage alive.

Research into this area has been lacking. Now, finally it is getting some traction as brave woman have stepped forward from the shadows. There have been many different approaches ranging from dry needling and pelvic physiotherapy, antidepressants to lidocaine creams. Finding the right amount and combination of interventions is like trying to solve a rubrics cube.

The causes of Vulodynia are varied but what it comes down to is the tissues neurology sending messages of pain to the brain instead of the normal sensation of touch. Symptoms usually include pain in the form of burning or stinging sensations. Sometimes the symptoms come and go. In some cases they are permanent and can force woman to sit on doughnut cushions if they sit for long periods. The pain has been likened to shingles. This doesn’t have to be visual as many women present with normal swabs and no signs of inflammation or redness. As with shingles the blisters can heal, the skin may look normal but still be very sensitive and painful.

Research findings have found success in a combination of treatments:

• Surgery to remove the affected tissue.

• Tricyclic antidepressants such as nortriptyline, even effexor

• Anti convuslants such as Gabapentin and Pregablin

• Acupuncture

• Lidocaine based creams

• Relaxation and psychological therapies

• Physiotherapy

• Low-oxalate diet

• Botox

The key point is that there is hope! For all the woman, and there are many, who suffer from these terrible afflictions, find a GP in the know and a sex therapist/experienced psychologist to support you psychologically. For the love of life!

 

Hair Loss & Acne Treatments Resulting in Loss of Sexual Desire & Arousal

Posted on 23 September, 2016 at 8:25 Comments comments (0)

I had the privilege of being included in a workshop this week to look at an emerging treatment for Post Finasteride Syndrome. Brett McCann and colleagues in Sydney, have been working hard to look at this issue. Finasteride is a key component in hair loss treatments. This treatment was at its peak in the early 2000's. The side effects were not discussed in depth, the only focus was on how many new follicles were regenerating and hair growth success. Later the side effects were noted but did not outweigh the success of the treatment. Now, finally, it is well known that this treatment has infact cause many men to loose all sexual desire and ability to become aroused. This is not a side effect but a syndrome as it did not abate after ceasing the medication. Finasteride is still prescribed here and attainable online.

Acne treatment Accutane (oral isotretinoin) which ceased distribution in the USA in 2009 has also been reported to have detrimental effects on sexual functioning such as impotence, decreased desire, genital deadening, inability to orgasm, watery ejaculate and shrinkage of the penis in a flaccid state. This drug has well documented mental health risks increasing susceptibility to depression and suicidal ideation.

Although research has focussed on men it reports of sexual functioning being affected in woman has been identified.

If you feel you may have been affected by these treatments and would like more information call Nina on 0420 323 022.

 

The G Spots Existance??

Posted on 19 May, 2015 at 2:30 Comments comments (0)


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I was recently informed of a research article published in the journal of ‘Clinical Anatomy’, volume 26, issue 1 by Vincenzo Puppo entitled Anatomy and Physiology of the Clitoris, Vestibular Bulbs, and Labia Minora With a Review of the Female Orgasm and the Prevention of Female Sexual Dysfunction. I was glad to see such an indepth look at the anatomy of female genitalia. I was even more thrilled to see how the examination of the anatomy and how it functions shows that there is no such anatomical structure to represent the G- Spot (Grafenberg Spot) nor is a vaginal orgasm possible. As Puppo says “The correct anatomical term to describe the erectile tissues responsible for female orgasm is the female penis. Vaginal orgasm and the G-spot do not exist. The vagina does not have an anatomical structure that can cause an orgasm”

 I just love this picture, we think we are so different girls and boys, but just look how alike our genitals are! A. being the female clitoral body where only the tip is external and B. is the penile body. Basically, woman (and their partners) can sigh in relief knowing that only 30% of woman experience orgasm through penetration alone and this is not because they have a special interior sensitivity. Woman orgasm due to contraction of muscles brought on by stimulation of the erectile bodies such as the outer and inner lips, the vestibular bulbs and clitoris. So fear not ladies, you are normal if you don’t experience orgasm through penetration alone and you need not continue searching for the holy grail G-Spot because it isn't there. If you are orgasming, no matter what the means, you are doing just fine.

The Amazing Female Orgasm

Posted on 19 May, 2015 at 2:20 Comments comments (0)

The female orgasm, thought to be myth until recent history has had the reputation of being the unattainable holy grail of the good lover. Well, it seems there is lot more to Mother Nature’s gift as science is discovering. Recently studies across the globe have discovered that not only is the female orgasm real but it has multiple purposes such as Influencing relationships, reproduction, good health, reward, bonding, warmth.

The clitoris, a by-product of the penis after the embryonic stage of life, is an organ which extends into the female pelvic area. Woman who experience orgasm through penetration are lucky in a sense that their clitoral body lies close the vaginal wall and as thrusting continues the internal clitoral body is stimulated and orgasm occurs. Ultrasound shows that during penetration the internal clitoral body is squashed and separated due to internal pressure. Only 25% of woman experience penetrative orgasm. The rest are happy to receive their pleasure through self-stimulation or oral. ‘Vaginal’ or external, it’s all clitoral and it’s all good.

The biggest the sex organ, brain.

A willing participant was placed in a scanner and asked to masturbate to orgasm. When she achieved orgasm 37 parts of her brain lit up in a specific sequence. The reason for the sequence is unknown but the hypothalamus ends up secreting oxytocin which cause the contractions in the pleasurable contractions in the uterus and the forceful contractions in men to enable ejaculation. It releases happy chemicals and allows you to feel soothed and satisfied.

Will orgasms get me pregnant?

A study where a female was inseminated with sperm treated with radiation and then asked to masturbate to orgasm showed some interesting results. The orgasm drives the sperm up the vagina, and the body seems to drive the sperm left or right to the ovary which is about to ovulate. While OBGYN’s are not prescribing orgasms to ensure fertilisation, they are happy to say it doesn't hurt.

Orgasms help us choose our mate

Orgasm is a compass guiding us to the mate with good genes. Today’s scientific measurement of “good genes” is demonstrated by facial symmetry (when the one half of our face matches the other). It seems we subconsciously choose mates we perceive to have this feature.

A qualitative study has also shown that woman who are passionately in love with their partners have different brain reactions to woman who are not. They rate their orgasms higher than those who are not feeling the passion. Good orgasms are then stored in memory and triggered the next time she has an orgasm with her lover again cementing the attraction even if the intensity was less.

Hope for the non orgasmic

Dr Stuart Meloy of North Carolina has completely by accident discovered an electrode device which results in orgasm for woman. He is a specialist dealing in chronic pain. In a procedure for a woman to implant his device in order to block her chronic back pain, he missed and intercepted the nerves to the genitals resulting in a wonderful orgasm. This is now marketed as the Orgasmatron!

So Ladies, orgasm is not only a treat to give ourselves or a as a gift from a partner, it plays many major roles in our lives. Don’t fake it, own it!

If you are having trouble connecting with your orgasm make an appointment today.

 

FOR THE LOVE OF LIFE!

Pornography Appeal

Posted on 19 May, 2015 at 2:20 Comments comments (0)

I have read and watched many programmes on the damaging effects that pornography is having on our youth. How it is distorting our views on sex, what is normal and what is healthy. The industry is certainly no longer in a brown paper bag, but even I still have a little feeling of angst walking into an adult store. Perhaps that’s part of the excitement.

 

HERE ARE THE THINGS I AGREE WITH WHEN IT COMES TO THE MARCH AGAINST PORN.

 

It is damaging to woman and men in the industry whether they engage consensually or are compliant for other reasons. Their bodies are pumped with sustaining chemicals, stretched beyond repair in some cases, surgeries to correct or enhance features that are normal for others and lastly, the enduring mental issues.

It is not a realistic representation of what actually happens in the bedroom.

It does distort what men believe woman want and enjoy. It does distort what woman think men can do and the size of a penis.

Porn does distort the notion of a woman having the right to control what happens to her body and whether or not she enjoys it.

Porn is not responsible for our sexuality. IT CAN, HOWEVER, INFLUENCE OUR TRIGGERS FOR AROUSAL AND THAT WILL STAY WITH YOU.

is not a disease.

 

WHAT I DON’T BELIEVE PORNOGRAPHY SHOULD NOT BE BLAMED FOR!

 

Pornography has been around since the early ages. It has lasted because it does speak to human arousal. There are parts of our animal instinct that taps into the power dynamic found in sex.

Let’s be honest, there are certain mechanics in sex. Something is going to be penetrated! Let’s stop freaking out about woman and men being subject to all this horror. It is just how it works. THE POWER IS IN THE ATTITUDE OF THE GIVER AND RECEIVER.

Porn is not there to teach us about real life sex because it does not incorporate the most important aspects of sex which are INTIMACY and EMOTIONAL CONNECTION! We alone are responsible for linking this to our sex lives.

Woman and men need to learn to be an advocate for their own bodies. Have the courage to tell your partner what you like, what you may be willing to try and what is not negotiable!

Youth need to learn that as they mature they learn what they truly get pleasure from. Just because it is on a screen it doesn’t mean you have to like it.

They are not gifts given out like candy. If a woman is not fully present mentally and physically enjoying what is happening for her, she will not be able to orgasm. If a man is feeling pressured, devalued or that his partner doesn’t really want to be there, he will begin to experience sexual issues.

 

It is incredibly liberating to take control of your wants and needs as sexual being. It is your basic right. Perhaps you like things a little outside the box, that doesn’t make you sick or a slut. Sex is an incredible bonding experience for two people in love. Explore yourself, explore your partner respectfully.

 

PS: Please please please don’t share private images or video.IT IS FOREVER!

Sexual Functioning Enhancement Supplements

Posted on 18 May, 2015 at 21:05 Comments comments (0)

Deborah Brauser, a medical Journalist for Medscape Medical News recently attended the American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting. There have been some recent studies on supplements people may take for sexual dysfunction or arousal, although natural there are some concerning trends. Active ingredients such as yohimbe, maca, gingko biloba, and horny goat weed are linked to a number of psychiatric outcomes.

 

NEW YORK ― Ingredients in sexual enhancement products advertised and sold online are associated with several serious psychoactive effects, new research shows.

A review of 108 Web sites and other online resources showed that the most common of these products contained the active ingredients yohimbine, maca, ginkgo biloba, and/or horny goat weed. These 4 substances were linked to the induction of anxiety, panic, mood changes, hallucinations, and/or addictive behaviours.

"There are different compounds that have sexual enhancement properties, but they can also have psychiatric effects, such as acting as a stimulant or predisposing someone for a manic episode," Giovanni Martinotti, MD, PhD, from the Department of Neuroscience and Imaging at the G. d'Annunzio University in Chieti-Pescara, Italy, told Medscape Medical News.

The researchers note that they wanted to raise public awareness about the adverse effects of these products, most of which are not regulated. In addition, they suggest that clinicians should ask their patients about use, especially because additional adverse reactions can occur when mixed with psychiatric medications.

"The possible impact on population health, particularly among subjects with

psychiatric disorders, who are usually at risk for sexual dysfunction, may be significant," they write.

The results were presented here at the American Psychiatric Association's (APA's) 2014 Annual Meeting.

Drastic Increase in Use

Use of herbs and supplements has "drastically increased" during the past few years, note the investigators.

"Indeed, various sexual enhancer products, labelled as 'herbal' or 'all natural' and claiming to improve sexual stamina and enlarge penis size, have become increasingly popular," they write, adding that this is largely due to being readily available over the Internet.

"This phenomenon…represents a serious challenge from a clinical and a public health perspective."

 

Between February and July 2013, the researchers used Google to search 108 English and Italian Web sites, including e-commerce sites, e-newsgroups, chat rooms, and online video channels. They also used the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, which is described as a secure online "warning system" that monitors media reports in 6 languages.

After the most common sexual enhancement products were identified, the PubMed and PsycInfo databases were used to search for reported psychological and pharmacologic side effects.

Results showed that the products that had the most significant psychoactive properties were yohimbine, maca, horny goat weed, and ginkgo biloba.

Yohimbine, which can be extracted from a variety of plants and blocks alpha-2 adrenoceptors at both the pre- and postsynaptic level, is advertised as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, as a sexual performance enhancer, and as a weight loss and bodybuilding supplement.

However, it is also associated with the adverse effects of anxiety and agitation, as well as gastrointestinal distress, hypertension, and tachycardia.

Uncontrolled Availability

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian plant that has been used as an energizer and to treat infertility and sexual dysfunction ― but it also contains a tetrahydro-beta-carboline acid, which may play a role in increasing craving and addictions.

Horny goat weed has been associated with hypomanic symptoms, as well as tachyarrhythmia and vasculitic rash.

Mistress Jadis

Posted on 18 May, 2015 at 21:05 Comments comments (0)

Recently I was interviewed by one of Sydney's top Queens of Kink, Mistress Jadis. Check out her blog:

http://msjadis.com/interview-sex-therapist-nina-b/


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