Please tell us how and why you became involved with Durex.
I have been interested in relationships all my life, particularly specialising in sexuality within relationships. I have done a number of things with Durex, I have been involved with the journalistic side of the planning when I started to work for Durex about four or five years ago. I am really excited to be their spokesperson now because they are doing such good work, safe sex is important but more importantly the emotional side of sexuality has always been something I have been committed to. The fact that Durex asked me to be their spokesperson was a marriage made in heaven!
Why is it important to you to help boost the levels of sexual satisfaction around the nation?
The whole issue of having better sex and having more sex is one that is very close to my heart because all the research suggests that not only does good sex bring you closer to your partner, it makes you feel better about yourself. People who have good emotional sex can get less anxious and less depressed and it helps your health as well. It lowers stress levels and improves your health in general. There were some studies done in Wales that found it can prolong life. With good emotional, regular sex you actually end up living longer. So I am really excited to help improve sex lives of people around the nation but the close emotional sex that Durex is proposing too.
Durex did a Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey and found that 53% of British men and women are not completely satisfied with their sex life, so why do you think this is?
A number of reasons, huge numbers of us are not satisfied and at the same time over 85% of people said that sex is really important. The reason is that we live very busy lives; we live lives where we don’t have time with our partners. One of the things that came through from the survey was that we may be madly in love with our partners, we work hard, we play hard, we have kids, we have commitments and we just don’t have the time for the sort of sex that we would really like to have.
How can a good sex life reduce stress?
It’s physical as well as emotional. One of the things about having a good, regular sex life is that it releases hormones in the bloodstream particularly after orgasm we get a flood of hormones into the bloodstream and other hormones balance out as well. As human beings we are meant to have regular sex so it reduces stress, it makes us feel more relaxed but it also emotionally makes us feel more relaxed. It makes us feel closer and strengthens our relationship and makes us feel better about ourselves. It’s not only that is makes us feel better physically but it helps heal our minds and our emotions too. If you are tense or under pressure you might be tempted to snap at your husband or wife. If, however you have the memory of having had good sex, you have the future prospect of having good sex again, ultimately you know you are going to have good sex. Sex that moves you, sex that brings you closer together, which helps you get through the bad times. We don’t use the expression making love for nothing. Positive sex positively makes love and creates love.
83% of the participants in the study thought that a good sex life is a vital part of health and wellbeing, so why it that people is are willing to let their sex lives dwindle?
They don’t want to let it slip but sometimes if you’re in a relationship it is aimed at doing important things in your life, to bring up your children, to commit to your job, particularly today in the current economic climate to keep bringing the money in, all those things are important. Sometimes if you feel very secure in a partnership it is very easy to have kiss and a cuddle but not carve out the time to have sex particularly long sensual sex. I am not saying all sex needs to be long, a quickie is good as well, but once you are longer term couple, you have all sorts of things that you have to do that are important. Because you know you love each other, even if you feel like not having sex, have sexual contact for just a few moments, even I you know you are not going to have sex. Rather than holding hands, kiss passionately and after five minutes you don’t feel like having sex then no problem but usually after five minutes you have reminded your body. Your body forgets how wonderful sex is and if you can, for five minutes just remind it that sex is close and emotional.
Remind it how much it helps you feel in love with each other, very often you want to carry on. The other thing I suggest is try sleeping naked, just reminding each other of the skin on skin contact is hugely important.
Please can you tell us a bit about your professional background as a psychologist?
I started off as a teacher; I love teaching and still teach classes about sex and relationships. Then I needed to move house in the middle of a big recession to a different part of the country so I got a job at a publishers which were publishing books about relationships. This was a lot of what I was teaching anyway and I also trained as a counsellor. Since then I now do coaching, I still do presentations, I work with Durex as their adviser but also as an agony aunt and I also write books. I wrote the revised version of The Joy of Sex which was one of the first books to talk about sex freely. Its 41 years ago since it was published so it’s quite a broad spectrum and is all aimed at helping people having better relationships
What do you think is the best product that Durex have produced to enhance a couple’s sex life?
One of things we are interest in this summer is getting people to have sex on their holidays. We have put together a holiday list for people so with the sun cream take the Durex Play Massage Two In One, as well as the rubber ring you might use in the swimming pool, take the Mutual Climax Condoms which have raised dots on the outside so he is getting pleasure but she is getting pleasure form the raised bits. We also recommend taking the Vibrating Bullet with you, remember that they are not just for her, using a vibrator on his sensitive parts is also really good because it gives different sorts of sensations.
In 35 years of working in this field what is the worst case scenario you have witnessed in terms of a bad relationship?
I remember receiving a letter from a lady who said that she and her husband had not had sex for a while. It was a 2 page letter and I was reading through the first thinking this is really sad. Granted a lot of people don’t have sex for a while, then I tuned to the last page and what she said as a PS was, btw when I say that I have not had sex with my husband for a while, we have not had sex since our wedding night which was 25 years ago. Something had happened on their wedding night and she didn’t say what it was but she also didn’t leave an address so I couldn’t write back to her.
The other very common problem I get is people madly in love and they have a baby and don’t realise that having a baby can disrupt your sex life. I get a lot of letters saying ‘we love each other to bits, we have a baby that we love to bits but I’m sore or I need to pay a lot of attention to the baby or we are working hard to bring the money in’. The one about children happens to so many couples, it’s the highlight of your relationship having a baby but the message to everyone out there who is struggling is that it is possible get your sex life back
What is your advice for those who are shy in the bedroom?
The shyness often comes because you don’t feel close enough to your partner, this is one of the reasons we are saying at Durex that emotional closeness is as important as physical closeness. If you are shy there are lots of things you can do physically, you can make love with the lights down, or with candles, under the sheets or use the positions where you are not as exposed. Her on top means he can see all of her where on her back her tummy is flatter and she is cuddling him. Just as important, start talking to your partner about sex; share what you really like about sex with your partner. Most men love any sort of sex, just the fact that you are willing to make love to them, to offer your body, to help and support them and give them pleasure that is just wonderful for him. Get him to tell you just how much he loves you and how much he loves you in bed and that will raise your confidence and allow you to be less shy. Believe in yourself- you are a good lover!
What are the signs that things are going really well?
In your emotional love life that you are looking at things positively, that you are looking back over your previous years fondly and that you are confident that you have a good future together. Also, that you are making time for each other and spending time together. It was once said that a good relationship has no arguments and some couples don’t argue at all. The work I have done with Relate suggests that some couples do argue but arguing is one of the ways they love each other. It is all about whether you put your partner first, are you effective at work? Are you bringing up your kids right? Are you spending time with your friends? Or is your carer going well? In general when you are away from your partner do you look forward to seeing them and if you have a good sex life but it’s still about the emotion as well as the physical side.
Why is your relationship with your partner the most important one you will have?
Its hugely import, I am not saying that partnerships need to provide everything, they don’t. If you need advice about having a baby, it is often best to turn to your friends or turn to your mum or go to an antenatal class. Your partnership is most important because you spend the most time with your partner, it is a life commitment even if you don’t stay together for life, you want to stay together for life. Often your partner is someone who you have never felt like this before about, you may have felt good about partner in the past, but this one you feel really good about. Partners give each other loyalty and respect. You know that you can come home to your partner that they will support you and they will watch your back.
Paul and Linda McCartney each made a promise when they got married when they said ‘I will never put your down’. They meant two things by that – I will never insult you, but also that I will carry you through life, I will support you whatever happens and I think it’s a lovely thing to say to a partner.
What is the best feedback you have received form a client?
There was one lady with only two hours of talking with me solved a sexual problem that had been going on for 11 years:
‘My husband and I have now discovered a new highly erotic side to our relationship, how many wives can say that?
How important is it to you to keep in touch with a client?
I do get a lot of clients writing to me and updating me with what they have done and how they have been and a lot of people telling me that they have got married!
What is next for you?
I am very excited about working with Durex; I will be working with them on a daily basis. It is important not only just because they offer people products to help with their sex life, it is important because they are world leaders in sex and championing the emotional pleasure and physical pleasure. The chance to work with a global brand is hugely exciting for me!