I am Samantha Evans, cofounder of Jo Divine an online sex toy company alongside my husband, Paul.
Having a background in nursing, I am also the features writer for Jo Divine magazine, an online library of over 300 articles, with around 50% of these focused on sexual health issues, offering practical advice and different ways to enjoy sex. We’ve been advertising in Women & Home, Good Housekeeping and YOURS since 2008 and generally have an older customer base (the oldest is 95). Our customers are unlikely to go to Ann Summers or shop online for sex toys so instead order by post and telephone orders. Some even order a catalogue by post to remain anonymous. Many tell us over the phone about their sexual health problems, including the negative attitude from some HCPs and GPs who dismiss them for wanting a sex life. Often, when they have a sexual health problem, they are told they have to live with it or there is no solution. Both our male and female customers buy a sex toy if penetrative sex is no longer possible so that they can still enjoy sexual intimacy together. We have many male customers who buy male sex toys for sexual pleasure but also to help their symptoms of erectile dysfunction too.
Having an extensive knowledge about the sex toys we sell, I decided to start writing sex positive articles with practical tips and ways to enjoy sex that linked to our products. I enjoy creating informative articles about sexual health and pleasure, and have also written regular features for several leading websites, such as:
I’m also sexual health and pleasure expert for Healthista. I’m always looking at ways in which both men and women can take control of their sexual health to increase their sexual pleasure. Whatever your age, sex, sexual orientation, medical condition or disability, we believe that it is always possible to find ways in which to continue enjoying sex, it just requires being more imaginative and adventurous!
Creation of health brochure
At the request of Consultant Uro/Gynaecologist Dr Alex Slack, Pip Salmon, Women’s Health Physiotherapist and Lynda Wickenden, Gynaecology Ward Manager at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, we created our Health Brochure. It includes suitable sex toys and products to help patients experiencing sexual health problems, such as vaginismus, vaginal dryness, postoperative scarring, decreased sexual sensation and symptoms of the menopause. They recognise, along with other Healthcare Professionals (HCPs), that sex toys and lubricants can really help some gynaecological conditions and often tell their patients to buy one.
Dr Slack’s view is that he treats women so they can enjoy sexual pleasure and intimacy, but says that some members of his own medical team have struggled to understand that older people have sex, and therefore don’t ask questions concerning their sex lives even though symptoms could be related.
Having spoken to the South Coast of England Women’s Health Physio forum, this led to Gerard Greene, kindly distributing them at Women’s Health Physio Summit in West Midlands, Uk in June 2015.
Gerard has also been very supportive of our work through the Women’s Health Facebook group which is home to approx. 3600 Physiotherapists and some esteemed Physios who work in Sexual Health like Holly Herman in Boston and Tali Rosenbaum in Israel.
The health brochure is now being given out by doctors, nurses, physios and psychosexual therapists across the UK. As a result of our health brochure being seen by Dr Tracie Miles, lead oncology/gynaecology nurse for the UK, she invited me to give a talk at the National Forum of Gynaecology Oncology Nurses (NFGON) and the British Gynaecology Cancers Society Survivorship Multidisciplinary Conference in Bath.
As you know, many medical treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and side effects of medication can leave people with sexual problems, impacting upon their relationships. However many HCPs find talking about sexual issues with their patients difficult or uncomfortable.
So the NFGON are launching a National Psychosexual Education Framework: a multi professional teaching programme for gynaecology/oncology nurses to help them talk about sexual issues and problems with their patients. Often, the response of nurses is to refer their patients for psychosexual counselling immediately but there are long waiting lists. However, the NFGON wants to enable nurses to explore other routes in which they can help their patients by becoming more confident about talking about sex. They want to ensure that they offer appropriate literature and advice before referring them for psychosexual therapy.
Often HCPs don’t know if they can recommend products, not available on prescription, to their patients and even when HCPs are recommending products, they need to be aware of what these products are made from as some can cause irritation. We only sell skin safe products and offer a range of YES organic lubricants.
Many HCPs don’t make the connection between sexual health and sexual pleasure, yet they are linked in so many ways.Thinking outside the box can be hard for some HCPs as they are trained using a medical model which is very prescriptive, yet by not making patients aware of other products and ways in which they can improve their sexual health could be seen as neglecting their practice. It also allows their patients to take control of their health which can often be hijacked by the health professionals.
I’m sure many of you are already talking about sex with your patients but for some HCPs this is going to take time and some may never feel comfortable with this aspect of their patient’s care. However, talking about sex in the NHS can only improve care and the sex lives and relationships of many people.
Please email or call us if you would like copies of the Jo Divine Health Brochure for your patients or yourself and take a look at our website articles for tips, advice and practical ways in which your patients can enjoy sexual health and pleasure.
Let us know your thoughts at @ SamTalksSex and @womenshealthfb