Transcript of VPS Podcast 9 - Psychosexual interventions for vulval pain: a presentation given by Kate Moyle

This is a transcript of VPS Podcast 9, which is an audio recording of a slide presentation given by Kate Moyle at the VPS Super Workshop on 9 May 2015. You can listen to the podcast at Podcast 9 - Psychosexual interventions for vulval pain: a presentation given by Kate Moyle

Kate Moyle: I am a psychosexual therapist. I am the person that everyone apparently from this morning has been dreading being sent to, because you’re going to be told you’re crazy, which I’m not going to do! But basically I’m following on from something Ashish [Ashish Shetty, another workshop speaker] said earlier. He mentioned ‘fun’ in relation to chronic pain and booking a ticket to the cinema, getting a pain and not going. What I am talking about is how that relates to sex, so that idea of if it’s painful, that you then avoid the act again, and how that cycle begins.

[Kate indicates a slide of the artwork ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’.]

This is something called The Great Wall of Vagina…

[Laughter]

Kate Moyle: …which is a really amazing piece of art - you should all go and see it. Actually the artist himself said that it should have been called The Great Wall of Vulva…

[Laughter]

Kate Moyle: …but it didn’t have the same rhyming with China bit. Still, a really useful piece of art to show how different we can all be.

I’m going to try and not put you to sleep as was suggested earlier and in the second half of the talk, we are going to have some sex toys handed around. They’ve been lent to us by Sh! [a women’s sex shop] today, and there’s also a 10% off loyalty card for all of you if you wish to go. The idea is that they are to help with the non-penetrative part of sex, which should be good fun, and how that can incorporate a bit of fun back into everyone’s sex lives.

So, talking about sex. A lot of connotations for a three-letter word! The Oxford Dictionary defines it as ‘sexual activity including specifically sexual intercourse’, and most people you ask would agree.  However, sex as just intercourse, just penis and vagina, is limiting and therefore it can lead some of us to think that what we’re doing with our partners is disappointing. I often challenge people into considering the bigger picture, by asking questions such as: if penis in vagina penetration is the pure definition of sex, then what was Bill Clinton doing with Monica Lewinsky?

[Laughter]

Kate Moyle: What do lesbians do? And can gay men have sex? Apparently not. All of these acts are considered outside of the remit for sex. The current definition of sex makes them meaningless. I want to challenge this idea by opening up discussions. Let’s create our own ideas about what sex is, and what is included in that.

For some, the idea of sex is intertwined with that of intimacy and so acts of togetherness are what we seek and enjoy. And it’s certainly not my place to say that that doesn’t count as sex. In fact, I believe absolutely the opposite - that we should empower ourselves by using a broader definition. If we’re able to consider sex in more diverse terms, and if we include non-penetrative sex in the overall definition, then the repertoire for sexual pleasure is much wider and more colourful, and I personally think, more fun.