Friday, 4 October 2019


*In this post, we are lucky enough to be able to use the artwork from the incredible Jovanna Eriksson. Check her gorgeous prints and merch out here!*

You guys asked our anonymous lecturer/midwife of 33 years a bunch of sex-related questions. You gave her a good challenge, but she was born ready for these! (Get it…?)

I get UTIs all the time, help!

Wash before and after sex, and if you don’t wash, at least have a wee. Don’t use soap on the vagina, just use water or a pH neutral wash (you can get them over the counter). Drink plenty of water and if you’re prone to them, avoid acidic, citrusy drinks like orange juice. Cranberry is good when you’ve got one but not just sugary squash - real cranberry juice!

What does the pill actually do to hormone balance and mental health?

So, there are two different types of the contraceptive pill: combined oestrogen and progesterone, or progesterone only. Both pills essentially mimic pregnancy to stop ovulation: you can’t get pregnant if you’re already pregnant (or, in this case, if your body thinks you are). Just like when women have a baby forming in their tummy, they can experience a whole load of weird and wonderful side effects when they take the pill, too. These additional hormones can increase your blood pressure, your risk of blood clots, cause nausea or weight gain, provoke mood swings… you get the idea. Basically, any side effect that you might get when you're pregnant, you could also get taking the contraceptive pill. 

However, these hormones are given in much smaller doses than what would be present if you were pregnant, so the side effects should, theoretically, be less intense, the progesterone-only pill containing the least amount of hormone.

Regarding the mental health aspect, it is completely dependent on the individual. Just as people’s bodies and mentality react differently during pregnancy, people will react differently to the pill. As with all forms of contraception, some people react much better than others.

Are there any STIs I can get just through oral?

Herpes! Don’t let someone go down on you with a cold sore!

Do I have erectile dysfunction or am I just not turned on by my partner?

The easiest way of establishing whether you have erectile dysfunction is by answering the question: do you ever wake up with an erection? If the answer is no, you should probably head to the doctor. It could be diabetes, it could be a psychological issue… but don’t panic! Viagra is a suitable long-term cure. As with women and their contraceptives, family-planning clinics help people with erectile dysfunction every single day!

Where can I get the morning-after pill?

It’s about £38 in UK pharmacies, so go to the doctors or the family planning clinic where it’s free! They are not judging you, they want to help - it’s their job! That said, the morning-after pill has much worse side-effects than the contraceptive pill, so avoid relying on it as a form of contraception.

What is the weirdest baby name you’ve ever given?

Zippity Doo Dah - can you guess the surname?

Why do I get period cramps and top tips?

Period cramps occur when the endometrium (lining of the womb) peels away. If the ovary hasn’t been fertilised, the womb contracts to eject the bloody lining, and in some women, this is a more painful experience than others. Hot water bottles, relaxation exercises (get on all fours and rock your pelvis back and forth - sounds odd but trust me!) and taking simple medication like paracetamol are all practical ways of reducing painful cramps. If the pain is so intense that your lifestyle is disrupted, however, your doctor can prescribe you stronger medication.

Is there a viable contraceptive pill for men?

Unfortunately not. There is research into injections for men, but this is still in the early stages.

How many pregnancies are unplanned?

In the UK, 50%!

The pull out method has worked for me so far, why does everyone stress about it?

Look at the above statistic! Because bodies are unpredictable. Premature ejaculation can absolutely happen, and absolutely cause pregnancy! There are millions of sperm released in every ejaculate and only one of them needs to get through at any point during sex. Sperm can stay active in the vagina for roughly 24 hours - would you still feel as confident that you’re not going to get pregnant if you were having unprotected sex for 24 hours straight? You need to be extremely familiar with your menstrual cycle and how your body changes when you’re ovulating (which few women manage to do) to have unprotected sex long-term and also avoid falling pregnant. Trust me, as a midwife who deals with a lot of pregnancies and babies, I would not recommend this as a form of contraception (can it even be called that?)

Have you got any stories of contraception failures?

Yes. More than once I have found the copper coil caught in the baby’s placenta!

What is the best contraception to be on with anxiety?

This is another one that, because everyone is different, I can’t answer, but don’t worry - someone who knows your situation can. I can’t recommend enough going to a family planning clinic (check their website) and chatting to them. They have experts who match contraception to individuals every day!

Weirdest vagina fact?

The vagina is acidic so designed to KILL sperm, apart from one single day in the menstrual cycle (day 14, if you have a 28-day cycle) when it becomes more alkaline and the sperm can survive.

Can a personality disorder completely eradicate your sex drive? A few years ago I had a rough spell and went from wanting sex every day and being able to perform on demand to not having the slightest urge or want? It's killed off a few relationships because I just have no drive for it!

If you're on meds, it's probably the mood-balancing medication that is lowering your libido rather than the disorder itself. If not, it is probably psychological. Either way, a lowered libido is not uncommon (it is often a side effect of hormonal contraception, too) and nothing to get worried about. Visit a counsellor or psychotherapist - for free if you go to your GP first! - who can definitely help find a better solution!

Why does sex hurt? I don’t think I have endometriosis because I don’t get any other pain at any time… but sex (just penetration) hurts like a &**%$! Why could this be?

This sounds like vaginismus, which is when the vagina goes into an involuntary spasm and is usually a psychological response to penetration. Definitely try using a lubricant and always ensuring that there is plenty of foreplay before having sex - and if this still doesn’t work, as above, go and speak to an expert about it, who deal with these sort of things daily. It’s far more common than you think!

Thanks again for all your questions - I hope that you learnt something!

All the love, George, Haze & our fantastic midwife xxx


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