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Episode 47  -  An In interview with Dr.Katrina Bouchard
Melany Krangle & Suzie Sheckter

Suzie: Welcome to Sharing My Truth with Mel and Suzie, the uncensored version where we bear it all.

Mel: We do 1234.

Suzie: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to sharing my truth Pod. You're here with Melanie. Did I just blow an eardrum? I'm sorry. Jesus Christ. I'm just pretty excited because we just had an amazing interview with a real life doctor of psychology and sexual health, Dr. Katrina Bouchard. And I'm pretty excited about it. How did you feel about it?

Mel: It was a fantastic conversation, and I think for our male and female audience, in the audience, as it were, it will really help you. Because she studies sexual desire. Right.

Suzie: She was extremely informative on just the desire, low libido, which obviously comes into desire and yeah, why that might affect and obviously she's an expertise in vulvas, but she sees couples, and she's obviously she just is a doctor, so she knows she's not a medical doctor, but she's a doctor of psychology.

Mel: Yeah, she's a PhD.

Suzie: She's a big PhD. So she's a pretty bad *****.

Mel: She definitely is. It's pretty impressive.

Suzie: But yeah, she's a registered psychologist. She's an assistant professor at UBC. She's an assistant professor at UBC in the department of Obstetric. What do you ******* say?

Mel: Obstetrics.

Suzie: Obstetrics.

Mel: Very good.

Suzie: Thank you so much. Wow. I need to go to this, obviously school. Obstetrics of Gynecology. I'm just going to say that again. She's a registered psychologist and an assistant professor in the department of Obstetrics.

Mel: That's very good.

Suzie: Thank you. And Gynecology very good at UBC.

Mel: Yes.

Suzie: And she's oh, I'm sorry. I was going to I just wanted to talk about that. She's the director of the Psychology Health and Sexuality Laboratory at UBC. And it's called the phase lab with PH.

Mel: Yes. And that she studies it, and that's what we were so interested in.

Suzie: Yeah.

Mel: How do you do that?

Suzie: How do you study it? And I had to ask. I was like, do you have people masturbating in your lab? She kind of does. You guys will listen to the episode, which she'll talk about it. She has a better job of describing.

Mel: It than I do.

Suzie: But it's just very interesting.

Mel: It's very interesting. And also, fun fact before you listen to the interview, that Canada is at the forefront of this. It's so cool.

Suzie: I was so happy to hear that. Which is very cool because we're a much more sexually open country than, let's say, the US. Which is, I mean yeah, apparently so.

Mel: That's very interesting. But listen, because male or female, and even if you are in a couple where there are issues, like with your sex life, sexual desire, whoever's having those issues or not, I think it's actually very informative things to think about if something is not going right or when to do something and so on. So I think that's really helpful.

Suzie: Yeah. And if you guys listen to the end of the episode, she talks about an opportunity for some free couples therapy, specifically about low libido and sexual desire. So listen to the end of the episode, and you can see if you can qualify for that amazing study. Because I'm jealous and I want to be. I just want to hang out with her.

Mel: Of course you're jealous with Dr. Bouchard.

Suzie: She's so cool.

Mel: You want to be in her studies. I do, yeah. Anyways, obviously. But anyway, we'll link it all, and so that if you're interested, you can look at that. But anyway, listen very interesting and enjoy. Yeah. Till next time.

Speaker C: Okay. Amazing.

Suzie: Thank you so much, Dr. Katrina, for joining us on this very special day. We're thrilled to be speaking with you. I know you have done such incredible and amazing research in your field, the field being psychology of sexual desire. And you can stop me if I'm wrong. You're nodding, which is a yes, which is great. I am going to get you to introduce yourself just to our audience, maybe some special things about what you do on a day to day and what we should probably know about the basics of psychology and sexual desire. I'm absolutely fascinated.

Speaker C: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. It's my pleasure to be here and meet you both. So, I'm Dr. Katrina Bouchard. I am the director of the Psychology, Health and Sexuality Lab at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and I am also an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. So I'm a researcher, and I study women's sexuality as well as vulvar, health in women and people with vulvas. And so my day to day really looks like a lot of research and a lot of working with graduate students and postdocs and things like that to do research on female sexuality. I also practice as a registered psychologist, so I work with folks who have pain during sex, folks who have low desire, and also people who have sexual concerns after cancer treatments. And then I do a little bit of teaching as well. So lots of hats, and I enjoy wearing all of them.

Suzie: That's really amazing. And I think a lot of people have a lot of questions, like we do, obviously, about women. Obviously, that's your specialty, are people with vulvas and their sexual desires. Because we talk about this all the time, Mel and myself, about sometimes we like something, the next day we don't. Right, right. Where it's like we're changing our minds all the time. It might be hormones. It might be something. Maybe you can start us off there. What is with us?

Speaker C: Totally. So sexual desire ebbs and flows, right? So something that is going to be really appealing and capture sexual interest one day might not be the exact same the next day. And so a lot of this matters on the context and the cues. So just like any type of emotional experience, sometimes you're really feeling a certain activity, whether it's like exercise. Let's say you're really feeling going for a run versus doing yoga. We like different things on different days and desiring sexual activity is really no different. So I think that that's totally within the scope of what's typical and what's healthy to desire different things. Of course, desire ebbs and flows across the lifespan. So sometimes there's this idea that wanting sex is like a drive that should always be high and you should always want sex. And so that's not really the case. Desire can go up and down and that can be totally healthy. So certainly there's a lot of variability in terms of people's interests in terms of their desire for sex, for different sexual activities.

Suzie: Very cool.

Mel: Interesting a question. Does it differ in your research? I know it's focused on women, but what is the difference between men and women? I know we're constantly trying to understand this as human beings. What's the key difference?

Speaker C: Totally. So there is this really popular conception out there that men's and women's sexual desire is so different. Oftentimes there is a view that men have high sexual desire, women have lower sexual desire. There's a lot of differences between men and women but also within men and women. So it's not just like one or the other. But what can be an important difference is the types of sexual desire that folks experience. So a lot of what we think about when we think about desire is this spontaneous urge of being horny, jumping somebody's bones, like feeling that intense desire and that just sort of comes out of nowhere. But that's not necessarily how everyone experiences desire and certainly not after a relationship goes on for a while. Then responsive desire can sort of come into the picture where you're not necessarily feeling like this automatic all of a sudden feeling of wanting to have sex. But when a sexual situation is evolving you sort of can feel into it and want more and be interested. So that's that responsive piece. And often that resonates more with women where they're saying I'm not feeling that jumping bones sort of feeling in a longer term partnership, but I am into pleasurable sex and I do want to have it. So that's more that responsive piece.

Suzie: I mean, that makes so much sense. Like Mel and I obviously have both been in long term hers a little bit longer than mine, but long term relationship and yeah, I mean, obviously it's not like the spark of love fades but yeah, your sexuality and the way you're like, I don't really feel like it, I'm pretty tired. But you still want to get off and that's really tough for women because I think we sometimes can confuse that with a low libido.

Speaker C: Right.

Suzie: Do a lot of people come to you with that low libido thought and then you're like, well, no, you've just kind of been with your partner, or how does that usually go?

Speaker C: Definitely totally so because the way that we see desire portrayed is this spontaneous feeling. And often when people start relationships, they feel that intense sort of chemistry feeling of lots of desire. And if that changes, then it can sort of make you feel like, well, maybe something's wrong, something shifted here. It's sort of like a human nature thing to try to explain why a change has happened. So certainly people can come in to be really concerned about their desire and we can have a look at it. But sometimes it's a shift that is totally okay and manageable through looking at desire a little bit differently.

Mel: And why is it then that society is very focused? Like you talked about spontaneous desire. We seem to be very focused on that, male and female, and very focused on this idea of desire. If it's not hot in the relationship, then there's something wrong. And that if you actually have to sort of work at it, whether that's scheduling or becoming aroused or whatever, that there's something ultimately wrong with that connection with that person. And I don't think that's the case, but from personal point of view. But why do you think then we're so focused on that in society?

Speaker C: I think that there's a couple of reasons. One is as humans, we learn a lot through observing. And since we don't get to observe a lot of people's sex lives, for the most part sometimes maybe, but for the most part not, then we go off of Hollywood depictions of sex. So a lot of our ideas around sex are based off of fiction, and so they're written as fictional, and it doesn't necessarily match up with what people actually experience. And if all this sexual exposure you have is your sex life and then Hollywood, you're going to have this big potential gap of the way things actually are. And then the other part is, like we were talking about when new relationship energy is there and there is a lot of spontaneous desire that helps maybe bond people together. It's that change or that shift. Another thing that can come up is if people have kids, desire can go down because of all these extra pressures and demands and hormonal changes. And so there's this feeling of loss or shift that can be really challenging for people to grapple with. So I think that's part of where it comes from. And then I guess I'll just say one more thing, is that often with sexuality, we take a male centric view. So we sort of even in research view, like men as the default and then try to apply copy paste to women. And that doesn't always fit. So if men identify more with the spontaneous, then that's not necessarily true for all women or even all men.

Mel: Right, okay. Yeah.

Suzie: So are you seeing obviously your specialty is in people with vulvas, but you do speak to obviously men and women and whoever on the binary in your psychology? Yes. You speak to kind of all walks of life.

Speaker C: Yeah. So I do a lot of couple work and so oftentimes women are partnered with men, so I'll see men and women as couples. Yeah, all folks.

Suzie: Amazing. Are you seeing like a certain age where there's people coming in to see you? Or they're like, I have a low sex drive, why do I have a low sex drive? And are these people younger than we should be expecting that they are or what's your take on the age there?

Speaker C: Yeah, so I did a study on a treatment for low sexual desire recently. So we created a couple therapy and tested it out in a small sample. It was a pilot study, but we're going to expand on it. And for that we had people across the whole age range who were interested from late twenty s to early 70s, so it really can run the gamut. But in my practice in BC, I see a lot of folks in their see a lot of folks after cancer treatment and a lot of them are in their range with gynecologic cancers like cervical cancer. So I don't think low desire is a particular age group issue. Right. Although there are those vulnerable periods of postpartum and then also post menopause can be another sort of recalibration period for sexuality.

Suzie: I kind of love how you say that. Like the recalibration. I'm just getting tuned up.

Speaker C: Exactly. Yeah. It's all about framing in my line of work.

Mel: I love that, but also I think it's the pressure, right. If I think of myself I've had children and so I got married in my late twenty s. I had children, I was working, still am, and there's lots of pressures with that and you have young children and my husband was traveling a lot and then now I'm in menopause. So you've gone through all these kind of different things and it does change. There still is a pressure that you feel from within, from yourself, like what's wrong with me? Or why am I not always consistently the same or whatever? And then pressures from outside. And I don't know whether that's because a lot of people are lying about what they're actually doing. Maybe like you said, they sort of live in this Hollywood fantasy world that they're not actually living in. Because if they were actually doing that, I don't know when they're doing it because there's only 24 hours in the day.

Speaker C: Right, yes.

Mel: But that we don't even as women, I find it very confusing that why do we not understand this about each other? There's such a huge amount of shame about low desire, low libido that we know as women, our hormones intrinsically, if you don't know much about it, that you're going to have ebbs and flows and why you just sort of go, oh no, and you just shove it under the rug. Don't talk about it, then there's problems in your relationship and on it goes. And you see the story happening time and time again. Yes, definitely. And when women come and see you, are they at a point where they're sort of at the end of that, are they coming because they feel it? Are they feeling pressure from their relationship and they're at the end of their I don't know what to do? Is it's cross section?

Speaker C: It can be a mix of factors. So I think to your point about the shame, about the negative emotions around it, I think a lot of that can come from relationship pressure, but in the sense of people want to do well by their partner. So if you're partnered with a person who wants to have a lot more sex than you, then there ends up being what we call a desire discrepancy. So that's not necessarily that one partner is right in high desire and wrong in low desire or vice versa. It's a difference. And so this is the most common reason people come to sex couple therapy is a desire discrepancy that people can definitely learn to navigate. But I think that shame and difficulty comes out of feeling not good enough, feeling less than and feeling like you're letting your partner down if you're in a monogamous relationship. Certainly I have seen couples where there was seemingly potentially more kind of pressure from the partner to work on this. But typically the women with low desire are also really distressed by it because wanting to have a sexual relationship to support your partner and your overall relationship is a valid reason to want to work on something as well. So it can be really self focused. Even single people who are sexually active with themselves or with casual sex partners, or it can be really relationship focused. It really varies.

Mel: Interesting. I love that.

Suzie: I mean, I really want to take us back to I know you brought up your lab, your research, which I think is so cool. And I think when Mel and I were speaking about it before this interview, we're like, what is a sexual lab and is it full of ******? What is people just like ********** in some kind of a weird corner and then you have another couple over here? I don't know.

Mel: My mind is going wild the way her mind works.

Speaker C: The mind is going wild. So yes, I do sexual arousal research as part of my overall research. And so what a lab will typically look like in university when you're doing sexual arousal research is there's obviously variety but common features. It typically looks like bringing someone into the lab, showing them some type of sexual videos, sometimes audio stories or different formats and asking them how turned on they feel, how aroused they feel by the material. So it's oftentimes before and after or during the video itself. I also do work in genital arousal assessment. So the physical side of arousal. There's different ways to do that, but I use laser doppler technology. So picture a weather map. So all the colors and then that is what we assess. Vulvar blood flow. So the ***** will create like, a color image with blues and greens and yellows and reds to show the different amounts of blood flow in the genitals in response to a sexual film.

Suzie: This is so cool. I want to be one of your subjects. I think you're going to be disturbed. She definitely, literally would love that.

Mel: And what do you do? Like, I don't want to say this from a place of ignorance, but what do you do with that research? I mean, obviously I think it's very valid, but what does that help with, other than the psychology of helping people? What is the aim of it?

Speaker C: Yeah, that's a great question. Certainly. So a lot of sexual arousal research has helped us understand human sexual response. So it's a way to understand how does different parts of arousal unfold? Like, what is the relationship between mental arousal and physical arousal? Is it closely connected? Is it loosely connected? How does that differ between men and women? So there's a lot of things that we can learn about the basics of sexual response. So that's kind of one part. And then when we learn those basics, we can create models of sexual response, and then we can understand and teach people about sexual responding, which until really the last 30 or 40 years, we didn't know much of anything about from research. I mean, maybe more like 50 years now. And so we can also bring people in the lab who have sexual difficulties and compare their responses to people who aren't having sexual difficulties. So it's both basic research to understand human sexuality and then it's also clinical research to look at whether treatments make changes in sexual response, whether there are group differences. So there are lots of applications that ultimately we're trying to help people with sexual difficulties.

Suzie: Wow. Can I just ask you, how did you get into all this? What made you be like, wow, I just really want to research sexual desires in people? What a cool thing did you just make? Just make your theme of your entire research. Like, please tell me everything about your background.

Speaker C: I think it was right place, right time. So when I was an undergraduate student at Queen's University in Ontario, I took an Intro to Clinical Psychology class, and it was taught by a sex researcher. And so the module on sex research, I was like, whoa, this is so cool. And then I took a human sexuality class in my third year, and again, I was just so interested, and it was my favorite class by far. So then I just sort of kept going further. I did my honors thesis, which is what you do in fourth year of undergrad, I did an arousal study. And then I just kept going and going and seeking out opportunities to do this work. And Canada is actually a really great place to do sex research.

Suzie: I love that.

Speaker C: Yeah. Because our funding bodies are open to sex research. So you can propose a study on sexual pleasure and you can receive funding to do that versus the States. It's a little more challenging. It has to be more couched in risk or health, sort of like HIV related things like that. We have such a high concentration of sex researchers, per capita, if you will, in Canada. So it's really nice.

Suzie: I didn't know that's.

Mel: Fascinating.

Suzie: That's proud to be Canadian.

Speaker C: Yes, it's amazing, isn't it?

Mel: So interesting. I find that fascinating. Yeah. Well, I guess also people are probably more open minded in that respect, perhaps. So maybe the institutions are like all the yeah.

Suzie: Are you also getting people from all over the world? Because we do have such a great sex research place. I don't even know how to call it.

Speaker C: Definitely can draw in some international folks, for sure. Europe is also a really great center, not that the US. Isn't I don't want to paint it out that way just because we're such a small country. Like when we go to international and it's a small group of sex researchers, relatively speaking, that when we go to conferences like, Canada really represents. And I've heard in recent years some comments from international colleagues about that, but certainly it can draw folks in internationally, and there are other amazing centers in Europe and things like that and elsewhere doing great, great work.

Suzie: That's very cool.

Mel: That is very interesting.

Suzie: We'll bring it back. We'll talk after this as well. How I can volunteer for your research, but I'd actually love to just take us to contraception because I know that you work a lot in that as well. And we would love to know, just like, what are the long term effects psychologically? Because I know that that's a part of what you're studying as well. What are kind of some of the things that we maybe don't know about psychology behind the long term effects of hormonal contraception?

Speaker C: Yeah. So I will just say a mini disclaimer that I'm not a physician, so I don't have an MD, but I am a psychologist. I can comment on the research. So when it comes to looking at long term effects of hormonal contraception on sexual desire, the results are a little bit mixed. So in 2019, the European Society for Sexual Medicine put out a position statement saying that there's not enough evidence that contraceptives have impacts on sexual desire. It's too much of a mixed picture to have a definitive answer of, like, yes, there is a link. I was reading a more recent paper, so it's a metaanalysis, which means they take a bunch of studies and look at the results across all of the studies. And so this is like a higher level of rigor than just doing one study, one snapshot. And they did see that hormonal contraceptives do impact in terms of having lower sexual desire, but it's still sort of mixed in terms of different study results and certainly there hasn't been enough longitudinal research, so looking at people using it over time, trying to put all the data points together to make definitive conclusions. So it's a bit of a mixed bag, but certainly many people experience changes to their sexual desire on hormonal contraceptive, but it's not at the level where it's so widespread and so pervasive that it's something that maybe people just don't.

Suzie: Want to admit it. Or what do you think?

Speaker C: That's always a factor with self report research, but usually there's enough things in place, like enough anonymity, that people feel like they can respond honestly. But definitely I think it's an area that needs more research, certainly because so many people take hormonal contraceptives. So it's quite a large population of people.

Mel: I think it's huge. I mean, from a personal point of view, I was 17 when I first took the pill and I'm 50 and I literally have just come off other than pregnancies, two pregnancies have come off hormonal contraception. And it's not until being 50 that I've actually sort of occurred to me, oh, going because now I'm going through all these sort of like the ups and downs post, that it just doesn't occur to me that of course you've done this to yourself, what's going to happen to you? But I don't think not enough is discussed, especially young women. I went on the pill, it was in the UK. There was absolutely zero discussion about what this could do to that part, your intimate part of your life. It was more about in my case, and I still see it today because I have daughters. If you have very bad period cramps, if you have acne, if you have any of those serious things and it's very hard to function, the first thing is always contraception to take the pill, because what is the other solution? And what I've seen from myself and from looking at young women and having daughters is that the good outweighs the bad. They have such bad cramps and so many other issues that they take it and it stops. But there is no discussion at any point generally because you're quite young when you're taking it and often you're taking it before you're sexually active, because you're taking it for other reasons. There's no discussion at all what this is actually going to do long term to your hormones. And I can just say from a personal point of view, didn't even think about it until now, until the end of the journey, which is madness.

Speaker C: Yes, certainly. And it is true that could be a little bit more rigorous in terms of informed consent or at least a discussion around the factors. Certainly there is also some I think this area is growing from the professional societies that I'm in. There's also some concern around folks who go on to hormonal contraceptives and then develop chronic genital pain. So it's not that huge amounts of people are but there is a subset of the population that experiences this effect. And again, it needs more research. So certainly I think we will see those changes. Sometimes it can be a little bit precarious to talk about this because the birth control pill was such a revolution for absolutely. Feminism. So it can be a little tricky of a dance to do where a lot of people don't want to be perceived as anti birth control, but there's maybe some nuance there that we could capture and address.

Suzie: It's so funny you say that. I follow one of these great feminist accounts who are like, they just want to put studies out there, just put the information out there, get people's opinions. And I have only been on birth control for like, three months my entire life. And then I was like, I don't want to be on this. And I've just used condoms and other things to not be pregnant, but I was lucky enough not to have these crazy period cramps and all these other things, and that's just my life. It is just so funny when you see these comments on these instagrams that are like, these people have there's so many women who have such problems with the pill. And I know you're not a medical doctor, but we do not talk about how many problems obviously, there's a lot of positives, but there's so many problems that are not discussed before it's prescribed and it's so infuriating because we're just kind of like, no, it's going to solve all your problems. Like, it's great. It's a magic little pill. Take it at 16 until you're 50. It's really crazy. So do you think that there's anything from this brand of mine? Is there anything positive coming out of do you see the research getting better? How can maybe our audience even can they sign up somewhere where they can say their opinion or anything like that? Do you know of any more information?

Speaker C: Yeah, I do think there is a shift happening. So it's definitely something that I've noticed where there's more even from the time where I would have been in my teens to now, I just feel that there's more pause or maybe acknowledgment. And I obviously have a bit of inside view of the medical system due to my job, but I think there is more acknowledgment from a lot of gynecologists. That okay. There could be some adverse consequences of the birth control pill in the sense of unwanted effects. And yes, I do think that's shifting. I feel that it's palpable. One organization that people could look into is iswish So. It's the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health. So it is a professional. Organization, but they do outreach. And the reason I'm thinking of iswish, is because they have done some public work around the potential effects of birth control on vulval vaginal pain. So I can send this to you after we chat if you're interested, and you could share if people want to read a little more about that.

Mel: Yeah, no, I think I mean, just to sort of a last comment about from my point of view, again, I always like to caveat it to my point of view is I do think that when I was 1617, all my friends were all going on the pill. There was no question, didn't think about it, just go on the pill. And I do see a lot of young women today, just to add to that, they are actually thinking about it because I think they're much more well informed and they do think maybe this isn't for me, maybe. So I do think that is actually very positive to sort of add to what you say. I do see it from my own personal point of view. So I do think that's good, that you don't have to do it.

Suzie: I mean, people thought I was crazy for not going on it like when I was a teenager and my mom was against it and the fact of not me taking it, she's a very feminist person, but she just didn't want me on it. And I saw her point of view and I was like, yeah, you're right, I don't need to be on this. So obviously do whatever is best for you, ladies. People solvas do whatever best for you. But there are so many options out there now about birth control and hormonal or not.

Mel: And I just think it's an interesting conversation, generically, just women taking more care of themselves, like being more well informed, whatever it is.

Speaker C: Definitely.

Mel: And especially in your work, I'm sure that they're coming to see you and that they're more well informed and maybe understanding the breadth of the issues that they have regarding sexual desire and arousal. So it leads on to a question that I have about that. As you see couples, do you see issues of I guess the term is low libido? Is it more in women than in men? Is it not? Is it just because it ebbs and flows? I'd be fascinated to know if there is an answer to that.

Speaker C: Yeah, definitely. So we do tend to see low sexual desire in women. It's the most common sexual concern that women have. About 30% of women at some point in their life will experience low sexual desire. And at any given time, about seven to 10% of women are distressed by their low sexual desire. So if you think about that in context, asthma affects about seven to 9% of people. So low desire is about on par with the sort of frequency of asthma. So it's pretty common.

Mel: Doesn't surprise me.

Speaker C: Right and that would be low desire. That's distressing. So some people have ebbs and flows and they're like, I'm not really worried about it. I understand the context. But these would be people who are like, yeah, I am worried about this about 7% to 10%. And certainly we see a lot more women with low desire. And in population studies, it tends to be more common among women. There is a pretty big factor that could influence this. If there's shame for women and people with falvas to say that they have low desire, the level for men and male individuals to say it is probably even higher due to this sort of macho type of idea of sexuality that men should always be ready, should always want sex, should just be so in ****.

Suzie: Always. Yeah.

Speaker C: So this idea that if you don't want sex as a man, oh, what does that mean? So I think that could also be a factor that inflates the difference. Right. And so there's this really great book called Not Always in the Mood. And that's a book more so tailored to men's sexual desire because certainly there are men who have low sexual desire and they need support as well.

Mel: And the pressure I mean, I'd be interested in your comment. One thing I say this to Susie all the time, is I feel as a woman that women, we need to be relaxed to have sex. Men relax to have sex. That's certainly been my experience. Like, I need to have everything around me clean and fine and everything, and then I'm ready, right. Sort of thing. Whereas men, my husband could literally be in a burning house with clothes hanging from the ceiling. And I find that fascinating. And I wonder if that is and we've talked about seem susie and I seem to feel that commonality. And I wonder if that is actually part of I mean, it's not very medical analysis, but that that's part of it. It's the way our brains work and how we respond emotionally.

Speaker C: Yeah. And so that really fits into the responsive desire that I was talking about earlier, where it's hard for the responsive desire to emerge if there's all kinds of stuff in your environment that's distracting you. Being able to be present is really important for sex, like focusing on what's feeling good, being in the moment. And so if there's tons of distractions for that, it can be hard to focus in the moment. And so one thing I'll mention about this because you might be wondering, well, how come men can do it? Or how come your male partners can do it? One really important piece is this idea of sexual accelerators and brakes. So this is covered in the book by Emily? Nogoski. Come as you are. It's from something called the dual control model. And so think of yourself as a car. Everyone has a gas pedal and a brake pedal. So there are things that press on your gas pedal and make you want to have sex. Go, go. And there are things that press on your brake pedal. No, don't want to do that. And so the house, being messy and thinking of all your responsibilities, could be pressing on your brake pedal. And so no matter how sexy the sex is, if you take a car and you press on the brake, you can press that gas until the cows come home. The car is not going to go right. Such a good analogy. You have to be able to take the stuff off the brake to make the car go right. And it's possible that for some men, they have a more sensitive gas pedal. It's easy to press the gas pedal. Really hard to press the brake pedal. So in your couple, you kind of need to think where's everyone's gas and brake pedal at, and that can help you navigate some differences.

Mel: Right. And also communication. I go on about this all the time, but talk to each other. If you don't talk to each other, that's where the problems talk isn't sexy.

Suzie: Okay.

Mel: Mel.

Speaker C: Oh, my goodness. Mel. I'm with so as a sex therapist, I'm all about the communication, but yes, I feel you, Susie. I know it can feel less.

Suzie: You want to be sexy and you're.

Speaker C: Like, Is that okay?

Suzie: It's like, shut the.

Speaker C: You'Re not here for it. Yeah, it can be tricky. Definitely. We know that sex is one of the topics that couples feel the least comfortable talking about. Like, they want to talk about interesting because it's not modeled to us. In a lot of cases, we just don't see it again. So it's like, oh, how do we talk about this? But with practice, it can be really important. And also not talking about the nitty gritty, like, in the moment. So if you're having a sexual issue, that's probably not the time. You want to just in bed, talk.

Mel: About it, have an in depth conversation.

Speaker C: Right?

Mel: Yes.

Speaker C: You probably want to set aside a time and not spring it on a partner so that they can feel. And what I always recommend as well, which we know from sex therapy, is focusing on what's going well. So I like this, do more of this. I'm into that. Versus, like, this is all the things you did wrong. And that's common sense.

Mel: That's life, isn't it? Focus. Start with the good stuff and go.

Suzie: To the we always do the opposite, or at least I do.

Mel: We focus on the weakness. But yeah, talk to each other and we get it. I could be an advocate for this.

Speaker C: Yes, you have it. You have it. Right? I agree with you.

Suzie: I love it. I really want to know if you have any insight into this. What is the biggest sexual desire you see? Is there some sort of specific sexual desire in women? I guess, because obviously that's your main research, is there something that you're seeing more of? Like obviously with your extensive research and what helps the vulvas get turned on? Is there something that turns us all on? Or maybe not all on? Is there any research showing that?

Speaker C: I feel that like a broken record but I think it's really variable. It just depends what people like but what is important is to figure out what you like. So a lot of times if you're trying to get that responsive desire going, I'm often recommending some type of sexual content for people to consume. It doesn't have to be ***********. Some people aren't comfortable for ethical or other reasons of looking at internet ****, for example. But there's lots of new apps now to listen to sexy stories or you could write your own stories, you could fantasize, there's lots of different ways but figuring out what you like is critical to telling partners or a partner what you like to enjoying sexual pleasure on your own through masturbation, through touch. So I think more than knowing what works for groups, it's important to know what works for you and erotica or sexual content can help you figure that out if you're not sure.

Suzie: Absolutely.

Mel: It's interesting, isn't it, that the two things in the world that probably make the world spin, which is sex and money that everyone's interested in are the two things we can't talk about. And it doesn't matter what culture you're from, whether it's sort of a more repressed culture like my own from England, or to maybe a more open, like nobody can do it. It's fascinating, yet it's the thing we're all interested in, it's the one thing we have all have in common, is.

Suzie: We so taboo, it's so sexy we're.

Mel: All either doing it or thinking about it.

Speaker C: Yeah, it's very true. I think it's really vulnerable for people. It brings up a lot of emotions and a lot of folks are pretty uncomfortable with feeling their emotions or expressing them. But it's so true. Money and sex are difficult topics of conversation but they don't need to be with practice, they really don't need to be.

Mel: Yeah, absolutely.

Suzie: And then I would love one of our last questions here. Obviously you're in education, you're a professor, which is amazing. I'm sure your students absolutely love you. I'm jealous, honestly. But seriously, what do you think is the key piece of education that we should be sharing with the population of women and what is missing maybe from our day to day or to not get us in a hole of shame or confused about our sexual desire? What do you think that piece of education is?

Speaker C: Let me think to just pick one, pick many. I think the one that I would focus on is that women's sexual pleasure matters a lot and sometimes it's sort of viewed as secondary or not as important. So really liking enjoying being satisfied by sex and there is a large pleasure gap between women who are having sex with men versus men who are having sex with women. So heterosexual folks, we know that to just give orgasm. As an example, when men have sex with women, 95% of the time they have orgasms. When women have sex with men, 65% of the time they have orgasms. So that 30% gap.

Suzie: I honestly thought it would be lower.

Speaker C: Yeah, this is one study. It might be lower. But when men **********, they have orgasms 95% of the time. So it's not a capacity issue. There's not this sex difference where men are able to have more pleasure than women or more desire or anything, but it is an opportunity difference. So if men and women who are having sex with each other, if they're only focusing on putting a ***** into a ****** and not stimulating the ******** at all, not engaging in different sexual activities, then yes, women are less likely to have orgasms with that kind of sex. So it's important to know that women, you are capable of lots and lots of pleasure. You just need to find out what works for you and what turns you on and then try to communicate that with your partners. So that would be my message, especially for young women that don't scrimp on your pleasure. That is really what a lot of sex is about.

Mel: I think that's excellent advice.

Suzie: I love that you said that's what a lot of sex is about. I'm like that's the only thing it's about.

Speaker C: No, I mean, there are other factors, but mostly people are having sex for pleasure. It's a big factor because reproductive sex is only a small amount of the time.

Suzie: I honestly didn't even think about that. You said that I was like reproductive oh, yeah, reproduction.

Speaker C: Reproduction. That old tiny things. But certainly not the focus of most of the sex that most people are having.

Mel: Yeah, I think that's great advice and I'm continually amazed how many young men do not understand that because a woman isn't having an orgasm from penetrative sex, he's not doing something wrong. She may need more and that's not him. He's not at fault. But that still seems to exist, this idea. And also this idea that if you bring toys or whatever into the bedroom that obviously there's something wrong with the way you're doing it as a man. And I guess with same sex female couples, they haven't got those issues, so they've sort of disregarded, they sort of got to the point more and they know each other, they've both got a *****.

Speaker C: Right? And there's less of that gap there when using sex toys, sex AIDS. There's less of that gap because the external stimulation of the *****, the ********, is really important for sexual pleasure. And so you need the right tools for the job. For sure.

Suzie: You need the right tools for the job. The boys like that.

Speaker C: It's fantastic.

Mel: That's fantastic. But we could obviously talk forever.

Suzie: I know you want to say our last question.

Mel: Yeah, it's just in the spirit of our podcast is about sharing our truth. Sharing my truth is, what truth would you share with your younger self? Like, we've just talked about education and so forth, younger women, but what would you want to share with your younger self?

Speaker C: I would want to say this is a little bit more related to me than sexuality, but I would say to treat sensitivity, like emotional sensitivity, as a superpower instead of as a problem because it helps me connect with people and know what's important. So that's what I would want to tell my younger self.

Mel: Interesting.

Suzie: That's great. I think women are so hard on ourselves because we all have to be so hard all the time, and we're like, Why am I crying? And it's like, Babe, it's okay to cry.

Mel: We have a lot of feelings just totally enough today. And it's relish. But no, I think that's very interesting. Sorry, I just dropped my phone, but I think that's a very interesting thing to say. I like that. I like that a lot.

Suzie: And I would love to just end this podcast as well with you. If there's anywhere people can find you or more research you want to give them, please put your plugin.

Speaker C: Thanks for the opportunity. So the main place that you can find our work through the Psychology, Health, and Sexuality Lab at UBC, or Phase Lab for short, is on Instagram. At the Phase Lab, you'll find us there, and through there you can find our website where you can stay up to date with the research that we're working on. So some exciting things that are coming down the pipeline in terms of sexual desire in particular, is we are going to be doing a randomized clinical trial, so a larger study on this couple therapy for low sexual desire. So we're going to start that in summer 2024, and we will be recruiting couples in Vancouver, in BC, in BC, in Nova Scotia and Quebec. My collaborators are in Quebec and Nova Scotia. So if there are folks out there who are experiencing low sexual desire in one of those provinces, and they think they might like to do couple therapy as part of a research study you can just stay on top of at the Phase Lab, and there'll be more details coming.

Suzie: What an amazing opportunity. I'm so jealous. Not in Ontario.

Speaker C: I'm ******.

Suzie: Not that I have low sexual desire, but I would still like to have my ***** heard. She wants to be heard.

Speaker C: That is prerequisite for the study, but we'll keep your ***** in mind for something else.

Suzie: Very much appreciated, Doctor.

Mel: Thank you so much for your time. It's really wonderful to speak to you and so interesting. Yeah, thank you very much.

Suzie: Keep on doing the Laura's work, girl.

Speaker C: Thank you for your wonderful podcast. I've really been enjoying listening to the episode. So keep up the great work of sharing these important messages.

Mel: Thank you very much and we hope we can speak again, yes, very soon.

Suzie: And if anyone has any questions, if our audience has any questions, very cool questions. Questions for us, questions for Dr. Bouchard about desire, low libido contraception. You can DM us, you can email us, go to and we will pass them on. And we'll have Dr. Pushard, if she'll come on again to answer those questions as much. Thank you.

Mel: Have a wonderful day.

Suzie: Wonderful evening.

Speaker C: Thank you. You too.

Suzie: Bye now.

Speaker C: Have a wonderful night. Bye.

Mel: Thanks so much for listening. Please rate and review this podcast and follow us on Social at sharingmytruthpod and leave us a voicemail on our to share your stories and experiences with us. We'll see you next time.

Suzie: Bye bye.

Speaker C: Three, two, o

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