Asking for a friend: conversations with a sexologist
to Asking for a Friend
Ever had a question you felt too embarrassed to ask, and instead asked that question “for a friend”?
Asking for a Friend brings you fascinating and interesting conversations about sex, intimacy, relationships, and mental and physical health. In each episode, Catriona will bring you evidence-based information and real-world advice on topics that are not often discussed but that we really need to normalise and talk about more. She’s joined by special guests who are all experts in their fields or have lived experiences of these topics.
Follow Catriona on Instagram at @therapywithcatriona for updates and to submit your questions
Asking for a friend about sexual pleasure
Catriona speaks to Dr Tlatleng Mofokeng (Dr T), about the right to sexual pleasure. Dr T is a medical doctor and best-selling author, and a trailblazer in the South African sexual health community. She’s also forged a path in international sexual health and reproductive rights, most recently by being appointed as a special rapporteur to the UN. We speak about sexual pleasure and what we should be taught about it growing up.
You can follow Dr T on Instagram @Drtlaleng and read her amazing book Dr T: A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure.
Asking for a friend about erectile dysfunction
Catriona talks about erectile dysfunction with the founders of a platform called Mojo Men, Angus and Xander. Mojo Men aims to help young men who are struggling with their erectile functioning, help them realise that they are not alone, and provide a platform that both Xander and Angus wish they had themselves. Mojo Men offers real-world guidance and advice from experienced health care professionals to help men overcome erectile difficulties. In this podcast, they open up about how erectile dysfunction affected them personally and why, and talk about how this quite common experience could affect young men. Find out more about Mojo Men on their website mojomen.com or on Instagram @mojo.men
Asking for a friend about sex and anxiety
If there was ever an unhappy couple, it would be sex and anxiety. In this week’s episode, Catriona talks to UK psycho-sexologist Kate Moyle about how much anxiety impacts our sex life, and what we can do to try and manage it better. Catriona and Kate talk about comparison culture, expectation vs. reality, and what we can do to manage our anxiety around sex better.
You can reach out to Kate via her Instagram page @katemoyletherapy. Her podcast, Sexual Wellness Sessions, is available on all major podcast platforms.
Asking for a friend about vaginismus
Vaginismus is not something we get taught about during sex ed. Yet this female sexual pain condition is actually rather common, with statistics showing us that somewhere in the range of 1-17% of women globally are struggling with it. It’s something I work extensively with in my practice. I’m joined this week by Lisa from The Vaginismus Network, to talk about her own personal experience of vaginismus, as well as why her and Kat started the platform.
You can reach out to Lisa and the team at The Vaginismus Network via Instagram @thevagnetwork or on their website thevaginismusnetwork.com
Asking for a friend about sexuality & breast cancer
October is breast cancer, so Catriona discusses a topic we rarely speak about in relation to this – sexuality. Prof Elna McIntosh, a clinical sexologist and a woman who has beaten breast cancer twice, speaks about everything from nipple tattoos and body image to self-pleasure and the need for early detection. Catriona and Elna also discuss using and accessing other resources to bring the experience of pleasure back into one’s life.
You can reach out to Prof McIntosh via her Instagram page @disa_clinic
Asking for a friend about sex tech
Sex and tech… what on earth is that all about you might be wondering? On today’s episode, I dive into this fascinating topic with sex futurist and entrepreneur Bryony Cole, to find out how technology can be used to improve our sexual experience, report sexual assault, help us overcome sexual difficulties and even teach us how to sextet. We delve into the fear of technology taking over, how it cannot replace human connection, and how we can use tech to enhance our sexual experience.
You can find Byrony on Instagram @futureofsex, and her podcast is Future of Sex.
Asking for a friend about sex workers
*A warning on this episode – some of the things that Jenny speaks about could be triggering. A warning for sensitive listeners.
This is a topic that most of us (including myself) know little about, and yet when I interviewed Dr Jenny Coetzee – a highly experienced public health researcher – I knew I wanted to share what I’d learnt. Despite sex work apparently being the world’s oldest profession, most people hold particular opinions about sex workers, and don’t have a enough understanding of what it’s really like and what sex workers in low income areas might experience and be exposed to. Jenny shares the human side of sex work with me, and her fascinating findings of the research she’s done in South Africa. This is a real and honest conversation, and Jenny doesn’t sugar coat things about the experiences these female sex workers go through.
You can find out more about the Africa Potential Foundation here: https://africanpotential.com
Asking for a friend about expanding male sexuality
“Get it up, get it in, and get if off”… sound like the usual narrative that exists around male sexuality? This week I chat to sex coach and sexologist Cam Fraser, about how men can learn to deepen their understanding of their own sexuality that goes far beyond the beliefs that pop culture, porn and society have us believe. He speaks about his own journey into becoming a sexologist, being a man in a female-dominated field, and how he helps men to work on shifting to an alternative view of their sexuality.
Cam is on Instagram @thecamfraser, and he has his own fantastic podcast: Men, sex & pleasure with Cam Fraser
Asking for a friend about unwanted sexual thoughts
Ever wondered if you’re the only one who gets those unwanted, strange thoughts that come into your head unexpectedly… You know the one’s I’m talking about. Crashing your car? Imagining everyone naked? What about something as upsetting as having sexual thoughts about to children? In this episode, Aoife Drury and I delve into a topic that is definitely not spoken about enough. We explore how these thoughts are always unwanted and cause someone immense distress, and what the difference is between the random intrusive thoughts we all get everyday, and the immense distress that thoughts like this can cause and what behaviour they can result in.
Aoife is a Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist and is currently carrying out a Doctorate in Psychotherapy. With a BSc and Msc in psychiatry Aoife has always had an interest in intrusive thoughts. Aoife runs her practice online seeing both couples and individuals. You can find her amazing work on Instagram at @drurytherapy.
Asking for a friend about perinatal mental health
Catriona and her guest, clinical psychologist Tamlyn Anderson, talk about perinatal mental health and the uncomfortable truths about motherhood that often aren’t spoken about. This episode focuses on the impact on a woman’s mind and body during labour and the 4th trimester, how one’s partner is affected, and what we can do as women to really take care of ourselves during this major life transition.
You can follow Tamlyn on Instagram @tamlyn_anderson
Asking for a friend about HPV
Every year, I get a reminder to have my pap smear. But do you know why you need to do this? And did you know that having your pap smear is only testing for a few strains of the sexually transmitted infection, human papillomavirus (HPV)? This episode delves into this topic with the wonderful and brilliant gynaecologist Dr Mpume Zenda. Dr Mpume is a passionate OB-Gynae-Sexologist, practicing in Johannesburg. She has a social media presence and is passionate about providing solutions to Sexual and Reproductive Health & Wellness through connecting Media and Medicine.
We bust myths, tell you what you really need to know, break down what HPV is and talk a little about how we wish things would change in order to eradicate cervical cancer.
You can find Dr Mpume on Instagram @dr.gynae. She sees patients in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Season One Q&A
In the final episode of the first season, I’m on my own doing a Q&A.
1. Does my lack of sexual experience matter to men? Do they care? Is it weird?
2. Why I find it hard to “get in tune” sometimes?
3. Eating disorders and the impact/ link with sex?
3. Why do some people like hurting the other during sex? Isn’t that abusive/ psychological reasons?
4. Is it normal that I’ve never had a vaginal orgasm but my gf has them all the time?
5. Whether sex with a larger woman is as pleasurable to men?
6. What impact do antidepressants have on me sexually?
Asking for a friend about psychedelics
My guest on this episode is Tobias Penno, an Emotional Health Practitioner & Social Worker from Australia.
In this episode, we delve into the misconceptions of psychedelics, how Tobias uses preparation and integration therapy alongside psychedelics to assist clients struggling with common mental health difficulties, and how psychedelics could be used to improve our experience of sex and why.
You can learn more about Tobias and his work here:
Facebook: Emotional Health Care
Note: I do not condone the use of any substances recreationally, and this episode is not about encouraging substance misuse. This is about science and developing research in treating mental health difficulties.
Asking for a friend about love, sex and pleasure
What kind of love do you have for one another as partners? And what are you expectations of love and of your partner?
Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh is a social psychologist and global thought leader in the fields of couples counselling, cross-cultural fluency, diversity and inclusion. She has numerous awards and accolades, is a respected author of both academic and general books and papers, and is a trusted expert for global media, including for the BBC, CNN and . She’s also someone I look up to and respect hugely in our field. She has extensive experience researching and working with couples to overcome challenges in love and sex that they bring to her therapy room.
Sara and I delve into the vast topic of love; exploring the varying types of love we experience, and how we make sense of it now in the 21st century. I asked Sara what exactly makes for a happy, healthy and sustainable relationship between romantic partners. We explore the differences between sexual chemistry and sexual harmony, and how sexual attraction and love are not enough for a relationship to thrive. And finally, we discussed sex and pleasure, and the complex nature of these experiences individually and culturally.
You can find Sara’s work on her website: www.relationship-panoramic.com
Podcast: The Little Black Fish
Asking for a friend about men's sexual health in the medical space
Why is it that we don’t speak to our doctors more about sexual health? And why is opening up about this part of us even more challenging for men than it is for women?
Dr Anthony Smith has been practicing family medicine for over 20 years, but has specialised in human sexuality and is a fellow of the European Society of Sexual Medicine. He is the current president of the Southern African Sexual Health Association (SASHA) (who run amazing free monthly webinars by the way), and he lectures at the University of Cape Town in human sexuality. Like me, he is also committed to educating fellow clinicians in South Africa in sexual health.
In this episode Anthony and I delve into his experiences of treating patients sexual health, and in particular the experience that men have with their sexuality. Our conversation takes us from how COVID has impacted people seeking out help for sexual health concerns, to how pleasure is most often excluded from the patient-doctor interaction. He explores with me the expectations of young men around their sexual health issues, and what the difference is between younger and older men sexually. We have a lot of work to do to break down the shame associated with taking care of our sexual health, and this episode with Anthony is more evidence as to why we need that to happen, especially for men.
You can find out more about Anthony’s work here: https://www.dranthonysmith.co.za
Asking for a friend about navigating sex after a spinal cord injury
Two topics you rarely think of in the same sentence are spinal cord injury and sex… and that’s exactly why I wanted to have the conversation today with my guest, Stanley Ducharme.
Stanley Ducharme, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and consultant specializing in the areas of sexual dysfunction, gender, physical disability, addictions, relationship issues and concerns of daily living. With over 25 years of clinical experience, Dr. Ducharme has worked with a wide variety of problems and has gained national and international recognition for the scope and quality of his work.
Often a forgotten part of human identity following a spinal cord injury, we explore why you should focus on relearning sex and pleasure early on, how one’s relationship can be impacted, and why a disability does not mean the end of your sex life!
You can learn more about the incredible work Stanley does via his website: http://stanleyducharme.com
Asking for a friend about what parents should know about sex ed
We generally find it difficult to talk about sex with our partners. And when it comes to properly educating our kids about sex… It’s even more difficult! Most parents really aren’t prepared to have THE talk, and this can leave it up to others, such as schools, where we take a more “better left unsaid” approach to exploring the topic with them afterwards. This is actually detrimental to your child’s sexual development!
In this episode I chat to registered counsellor Casey Blake, who has a special interest in sexuality, gender, parenting, relationships, and trauma. She runs workshops for parents and caregivers that help feel more competent and confident to have age appropriate conversations with their children. So much of what Casey shares in this episode are concepts and lessons we all need – whether you have kids or already or you’re planning to have kids someday.
You can find out more about Casey and her work by visiting her website: www.whatnowcounselling.co.za or on Instagram @toolsforhavingthetalks
Asking for a friend about what you should really know about sexual desire
When it comes to wanting sex, we all want to want it… that’s what we’ve been told we should do. But that view of sexual desire is far from most people’s reality, and actually leads to people feeling that there is something wrong with them if they don’t want sex as much as their partner does.
I chatted to Dr Christopher Fox, a psychosexual and relationship therapist practicing in Melbourne, Australia. He’s also the clinical director of the Masters program in Sexual Health at the University of Sydney, where I actually studied and met him.
In this episode, we talk about how “low desire” is not something bad and how we need to rework our notion of desire within relationships in order to have more satisfying sex lives.
You can connect with Chris via his website www.sexlifetherapy.com.au or on Instagram @sexlifetherapy
Asking for a friend about what really happens in couples therapy
I’m never surprised when consulting with a new couple that one partner is usually keen to be in couples therapy, and the other partner feels like they are being dragged there against their will. I’m also not surprised that people think couple’s therapists are there to ‘fix their partner’… which could not be further from the truth.
Stephen Laverack is Counselling Psychologist seeing individual and couples in private practice in Johannesburg. Stephen helps me to dispel myths about couples therapy, shares with us what he frequently sees in his own practice, and advises couples on how to get the most out of the therapy space.
You can connect with Stephen via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Asking for a friend about why your pelvic floor is so important
I know you’ve been told that your butt are the most neglected group of muscles in the body, but I really believe that it’s the pelvic floor that’s paid the least attention! This muscle group plays such a crucial role in our day to day function- from peeing to pain during intercourse. I chatted to the wonderful Candice Thurston (@nurtureyourvagina) about our pelvic floor and how pelvic health affects our overall wellbeing.
Candice is a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic and sexual health. Through her work in private practice and via her very popular and real social media platforms, she tackles topics like pee, poo, periods, pain and pleasure, and advocates for a fundamental shift to the way we think about, speak about and have these experiences.
Her course “From pain to pleasure” is available via https://sexologycourses.com and if you use the code “friend” you will get 10% off! It’s a comprehensive 4 hour course that could really help you overcome challenges relating to painful sex.