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

In working on this in therapy, we aim to retranslate some of those threatening messages, and find ways of being intimate which are less painful and more enjoyable. We’re also counteracted by the fact that we live in a culture where sex on television - Sex In The City, Eastenders - indicates that we have little control over our bodies, and that as soon as we’re stimulated by A N Other, we’ll be taken over by the urge to have sex with them then and there, even if this is in the middle of Albert Square, for Eastenders fans in the audience!


Kate Moyle: But this is nonsense, and I like to think that most people would agree with me. It suggests that we take no personal responsibility or awareness for our own sexuality, and that we’re in a constant state of arousal, and ready for sex in an instant. As I said: complete nonsense! In women, it’s much more difficult to separate out the sexual desire, if we want to be sexual, and arousal, if we’re able to respond physically. The two become very confused, intertwined, and also a lot of people feel a lot of pressure to perform sexually, which isn’t necessarily possible.

Therapy can teach us to be more comfortable with our own sexuality and can help us understand, and then reduce the issues that are causing sexual performance anxiety. So, if we’re trying to think of other ways of having sex, taking penetrative sex off the menu, what else can we do? The way I thought about it this morning, as I walked past the dartboard that is in my house, a game of darts would be incredibly boring if all I was aiming for was the bullseye all the time, but actually you can score points all over the board. So, has anyone, feeling brave, got any ideas about ways of having non-penetrative sex that might be fun?

[Audience response here has been cut for reasons of confidentiality.]

Kate Moyle: Anyone else? Anything? Chocolate body paint, perhaps?


Kate Moyle: No penetration needed?

[Audience question here has been edited out.]

Kate Moyle: [responding to audience question] No, that’s absolutely fine. A lot of the people, a lot of the clients I see are single, so I think that the idea that I’m working on is not an ‘only people in couples who are struggling to have penetrative sex’ idea; it’s about getting someone more comfortable with their own sexuality. I understand the frustration that causes when you’re dealing with something painful and frustrating, but it’s about, I guess, trying to break down the messages that a lot of people are working on with themselves. Also, a lot of sensate, self work, is actually my priority, because if someone’s better with themselves, then they’ll be able to be better in a relationship. But I can understand therapy’s not for everyone. I’m not saying it is. I think also, psychosexual therapy offers you a place to talk about what’s going on, and it’s a good practice platform for then going out and being able to talk to other people, someone you might start a relationship with, a friend. It gives you the confidence, actually, to voice how you’re feeling, and to be heard, I think, is a huge thing that I encounter with a lot of the people that I work with. We live in a society where sex is plastered on the side of every bus and everyone’s told they need to have it constantly and all the time, and that is not the case in reality. Touch in any part of the body – the back of the leg – can be really satisfying. It releases oxytocin, which is a hormone which is huge in mother-child bonding, breastfeeding – it’s known as the ‘love chemical’ or the ‘cuddle chemical’ in couples, because it produces this attachment feeling. It is something that doesn’t have to be used in just the genitals - it can be used all over the body, whether it’s the ears, the feet, the back of the knee, the thigh – wherever you fancy, really, that’s up to you.