Posted in Political

“Just Stick a Rainbow on It”

The Outside Project, who work to support homeless people from the LGBTIQ+ community, have today reported on their instagram account that Attitude Magazine (‘The UK’s best selling Gay Magazine’) has used its platform at this time, to call on the government to financially support Virgin Atlantic as an ‘LGBTQ ally’.

Their publisher, Darren Styles, has written a letter to various members of the UK government, using the struggles of LGBTQ+ people and Virgin’s past financial support of LGBTQ campaigns to argue that the government should be especially bailing out this private company against coronavirus-related financial hardship. Virgin Airlines has in the past been complicit in the deportation of migrants – a practice that it stopped only after pressure from groups such as Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, who target airlines specifically for taking part in deportation flights as it often affects LGBT+ deportees especially, who struggle to have their status as vulnerable and persecuted people recognised by an immigration system with stereotypes and problematic notions of ‘queerness’.

Particularly pertinent, given the current national health emergency, is that Virgin’s founder, Richard Branson has a long and problematic relationship with the NHS surrounding private provision of public services via Virgin Care (as well as with paying his taxes).

On instagram, Attitude appear to have turned off comments to their post on this one, in the face of heavy criticism from the community.

It is still possible to report it as a ‘scam or fraud’ if you think rainbow washing a billionaire and his problematic private enterprises in a time of stress on national public services is damaging and disingenuous.

Also, follow, support and donate to @lgbtiqoutside to *actually* support homeless queers…

Posted in Genitals: A User's Guide

Self-Isolation and Masturbation…

In these uncertain times, one thing seems sure… we’ll all been getting a *lot* more time to ourselves and our bodies. Given this, a lot of us will be turning to masturbation.

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Taboo and misinformation surrounds masturbation – genital stimulation for sexual pleasure. However, it is a very natural and health thing to do… So  much so that it is rife in the animal kingdom!

Furthermore, we often assume that it’s not something people with vulvas do. This is simply not true.

People with vulvas do masturbate – for example the vagina, clitoris or anus can be stimulated with fingers or a sex toy.

A pdf with lyrics and (ukulele) chords to this video are available to all subscribers on my Patreon!

Posted in Uncategorized

About Me

Emma Chan works as a Facilitator for Sexplain UK, delivering inclusive and sex-positive sex and relationship workshops, mostly to secondary aged children, across the UK.

They qualified as a doctor (BMBS) in 2015 from the University of Nottingham, going on to begin speciality training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2017. They previously studied Psychology (BSc), also gained at The University of Nottingham. They are currently working towards an MSc in Reproductive and Sexual Health Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Emma is a member of The Candid Collective, regularly helping to run ‘Genital Making Magnets’ workshops.  She has been interviewed about topics relating to sexual health by Cosmopolitan Online, Ask Ella and even BBC Radio Devon! She has appeared as a guest speaker at UCL’s Institute of Education, on the ‘Gender, Sex and Education’ MSc module.

Emma’s pronouns are she/her or they/their. They are comfortable with the gender label ‘woman’. However, she is conscious of this having been strongly ‘externally’ imposed through a life-time of social conditioning. For example, Emma attended an all-girls secondary school in North London and still has the pink baby name band she was given at birth. If they had grown up in the fearless post-feminist, gender-stereotype-free utopia they would like to try to bring about, maybe this label would not be so appropriate…

Posted in contraception, Genitals: A User's Guide, Uncategorized

Put a Ring On (?/In) It!

Last week I was interviewed for Cosmopolitan about ‘femidoms’ or internal condoms. These are one of a handful of contraceptives that often get talked about in sex ed classes, but appear to be less commonly in use.

Another type of contraception that this can be said about is the vaginal ring.

It gets its name from it’s shape – it’s a ‘ring’ made from a soft rubber like materials, about 5 cm across. It is inserted in to the vagina by the user and once inserted sits just below the cervix.

It’s another type of hormonal contraceptive – which means it protects against pregnancy by affecting the womb, ovaries and the fertility cycle.

It contains the same hormones as the combined pill – oestrogen and progesterone. Because of this, it works in a very similar way:

  1. Stops the ovaries from releasing an egg.
  2. Helps make the lining of the womb stay thin, rather than building up (a thick womb lining is needed for a fertilised egg to implant in and grow).
  3. Helps create a thick ‘plug’ of mucus in the cervix – the entrance to the womb. This helps stop sperm from entering the womb from the vagina in the first place and coming in to contact with an egg.

Also like the combined pill, the vaginal ring is used for three weeks and then not for one week – usually with a ‘withdrawal bleed’ in this week off. The main difference is that whilst the pill is delivered to your system by swallowing a pill, the vagina ring releases these hormones in to your system slowly over time.

After the week off, a new one is inserted. This is done by the user – so no need to attend a clinic or other appointment to get it fitted by a health professional, like with other contraceptive methods such as the coil.

From speaking to friends about their personal and professional experiences it seems like the vaginal ring isn’t something that is as easy to get hold of as other forms of contraception, at least in the UK!

Pros and cons

Because it doesn’t form a barrier between the vagina and the penis, it doesn’t protect against STIs. The vaginal ring is a form of contraception (helps reduce the risk of pregnancy) but not protection (doesn’t help reduce the likelihood of passing on infections through sex).

Some people may find it difficult to use – it involves being quite comfortable with your anatomy, slightly more so than a tampon.

On the other hand – it works very well. If used correctly, the vaginal ring is more than 99% effective. For comparison, this is more effective than condoms (98% effective). It only needs removing and replacing every four weeks – unlike the pill, which you need to think about every day.

For further details see:

NHS Contraception advice 

 

Posted in Genitals: A User's Guide

Reduce and reuse…

Just a quick reminder that not all period products are disposable. We already looked at period products in some detail here.

When we talk about periods in schools, most people seem to know about tampons and sanitary pads. Menstral or ‘moon’ cups however, seem to be a little less well know about and to cause alarm. Made from a soft rubber-like material, they can be squigged a little to fit in to the vagina, where they they retain their shape and stay in place in the vagina. There it collects blood. It can be emptied, washed and reused. They can also be sterilised in between uses – the one I use recommends either boiling it or using baby bottle steriliser in between cycles.

Several companies have started making moon cups. Most are a basic ‘cup’ design but come in different sizes. oftentimes the little ‘pull’ at the bottom of the cup to help remove them is a slightly different shape too.

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Washable pads are a bit more conceptually easier to get your head around! Just like disposable sanitary pads, they can be washed after each use.

Or of course, there’s… IMG_0746.jpeg

‘Freebleeding’ means not trying to stop the blood flowing in any way. For now, accounts of free bleeding seem largely restricted to those making a political statement or investigative journalists… but maybe that’s something that will change in the future!

 

 

Posted in Anatomy, Genitals: A User's Guide

Rubber Band Theory…

In schools at least, some variation of this question is reasonably common – people worry either that a vagina isn’t big enough to accommodate a penis/sex toy/ tampon, or that it will become stretched out of shape by any of those things.

The vagina is a tube, about 8cm long. It isn’t quite hollow – but it can stretch a lot. To make space for a baby’s head, for example – which is much  bigger than pretty much any penis.

The vagina might change shape after childbirth (after any number of children). But the idea of it becoming ‘baggy’ is probably more of an exaggeration.

 

 

Posted in SRE

My Clear Vision for 2020!

Here are my (blogging) new year’s resolutions…

(also fine if you want to shave it off – it’s yours!)

I look forward to spending lots of 2020 with menstral cups and 3D printed clitorises (as I did for much of 2019).

Sex is literally what you make of it. Also, for those of you living in London, UK – why not check out Sexual Health London’s online and home testing kits?!

Happy New Year and let’s go for a patriarchy smashing 2020

XOXOXOX

Posted in Genitals: A User's Guide

Just Add Water…

There are a vast array of sprays, wipes, lotions and potions to clean the vagina on sale. They are often sold under the umbrella of ‘feminine hygiene products’. But remember…

Unusual discharge (i.e. in smell, colour or consistency) can be a sign that something isn’t right. However, it is a normal function of the vagina to produce secretions…

See here for more details.

Posted in Good Question?!

What is Sex?!

Both as a Doctor and as a Sex Ed Facilitator, I get asked questions about sex a lot. Sometimes this is in spaces that are designed for that, such as a in classroom sessions. Sometimes it’s a furtive WhatsApp query from a friend or someone ‘@ing’ me. Today I’m starting a collection of some responses to some of the interesting ones.

This one ‘comes up’ in that it’s one we tend to pose to explore assumptions children and sometimes adults have…

*Heteronormativity. It happens.