Category: Health

Lyme disease, sexual functioning and what to do

I certainly remember running through the long grass as a kid. Now I avoid wooded paths and meadows like the plague. The number of deer ticks with Lyme disease in Eastern Ontario is at an all-time high and it’s something Canadians are still catching up about..
As a Sex Therapist I am seeing more and more clients in my office who are struggling with Lyme disease. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint and pelvic pain, complete lack of interest in sex, and who are simply trying to get through the day with no energy.
It’s especially impactful for women who previously had a normal sex life and then who’s libido suddenly dropped off

Lyme disease is controversial as so many people have different symptoms. The most typical is sever fatigue. Avril Lavigne (who’s from Napanee a few hours drive west of Ottawa) said this in her interview with Billboard magazine “it was an important step in raising awareness around the disease and the complications that come with treating it. “I’m achy, I’m fatigued, I cannot get the fuck out of bed — what the fuck is wrong with me?” she told Billboard, describing her symptoms.

Dr. Ingram says a person contracts Lyme disease when cork-screw-like bacteria, called spirochetes, are released from the mouthparts of the biting tick and bore into the joints and connective tissues of their human hosts, where they cause significant inflammation and pain, as well as tissue damage.

“There is a wide range of other germs which may ‘co-infect’ the tick bite victim, including organisms which may attack the brain and nervous system,” Dr. Ingram said.

LYME DISEASE SYMPTOMS MAKE DIAGNOSIS DIFFICULT and can create a host of confusing symptoms – both immediate and delayed. The disease is frequently misdiagnosed: fibromyalgia, arthritis, polymyositis, depression, multiple sclerosis, ALS, schizophrenia, psychosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Lyme also specifically attacks the heart and nervous system. Thus, victims of Lyme and other tick bite diseases are also often told that they have Bell’s palsy, neuropathy, pericarditis, and cardiomyopathy, while tick bite diseases and Lyme, as the causes, are never considered.

What I see as a Sex Therapist is people who can’t get answers about changes to their sexual functioning.

I certainly starts with a diagnosis. Be the squeaky wheel and get blood tests if your libido tanks for no reason. Hormones can play a role but if they all come back normal and you have explored other options asked to be tested for Lyme disease. I’ve had three clients this year test positive. The City of Ottawa tested ticks found in an area near my beehive on Richmond Road. 90% of the ticks tested were positive for Lyme disease.

Here are some steps from Dr. Ingram to protect yourself.
1. Wear the lightest-colored clothes possible, preferably white or off-white. White is best since the tiny tick nymphs which are black can be seen more readily. Larger ticks can be easily seen against such a background.

2. Socks are pulled over the pant legs. The socks should be white.

3. Wear a hat to prevent ticks from falling from tall grass or trees onto the head.
Be sensitive, and be aware. Have a high awareness for entities crawling on the body or in the hair. If any such sensations occur, check the body immediately.

4. Any tick bite, if discovered, should be treated topically. The tick itself, along with the bite area, should be saturated with the oil of wild oregano to attain constant contact, which is ideal to destroy any residual tick-related germs and the consequential local inflammation.

Oil of oregano will literally burn away the protective exterior membranes (biofilm) of viruses and pathogen transmitted by an infected tick. See your doctor for antibiotics.

Spray the shoes, socks, and legs with the natural, potent tick repellent

A Sex with Sue, Female-only event for Breast Cancer. Orgasms in O Town! June 19, 2018

Details about the Orgasm Night in O Town! A fundraiser for breast cancer.

Grab your girlfriends and come out, find your sexy self and talk orgasms!

Hosted by Sue McGarvie, Clinical Sex Therapist. We will dish out and sample all the new things that can bring you to orgasm. Sue will have the latest tips, techniques and suggestions. Lorrie the chair of our Orlando Ducklings is surviving from breast cancer surgery she has had in 2018. It’s a cause near to our hearts. In fact, right over our hearts.

The evening includes:
-a presentation by Dr. Belanger at Innovo Medical about the Orgasm Enhancing shot and the vaginal tightening laser. How to turn your orgasms up to 11!

-Details about the Zumio- The amazing new toy designed by women and based in Ottawa.

-Corset fittings from the Stag Shop. Find a corset that actually fits! What a concept.

-Make up samples and goodie bags

-Wine, chocolate and strawberries

-The new Vaginal Kung Fu with Tantra Instructor Kerry Lundy

Proceeds to Breast Cancer Foundation

Tuesday June 19 from 6:30 to 8:30
Innovo Medical
1328 Labrie Ave (Off Cyrville Road) Ottawa
Details at or at Innovo Medical (613) 749-4668
Cost is $10 at the door. Everyone is welcome.

The new Hex condom by Lelo – condoms re-engineered

In the early 1990’s I was a newly graduated Sex Therapist and just starting on radio. One of my radio sponsors was a major condom company. Grosses of condoms were delivered to my office and I gave them out at speeches, during sex education classes, and in abundance during frosh weeks at Colleges and Universities. I did condom water toss games, used them in a blindfold game on slippery dildos, and threw them to people across cafeterias. One of my favourite activities was to show how easy it was to break or denature the condoms by rolling them up to your shoulder or covering them with oil. The kids in my life grew to think that all balloons came with a reservoir tip. It was great, and I spent lots of time with latex of all colours.

But the truth about latex is that using condoms isn’t nearly as much fun as having no condoms when you are going to have hard, sweaty intercourse. Flavoured rubbers, with extra lubricant, ribbed and extra sensitive all help with increasing the pleasure, but there is still a noticeable barrier. My partner really does insist “he feels no sensation at all using condoms and it really is like wearing a raincoat”. Not having a penis, I take his (and the thousands of other men I’ve spoken to over the last 20 odd years about sex) word that condoms can limit the sensuality of the experience.

The female perspective is that semen can be cool. Messy but cool. We may ejaculate, but we don’t make semen. Semen has been proven to do a number of positive things. One ejaculate of semen contains over 200 proteins, vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, calcium, chlorine, citric acid, fructose, lactic acid, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vitamin B12 and zinc. And condoms by their nature of blocking the transmission of fluids limits the fun and beneficial interaction with semen.
So when the Swedish sex toy manufacturer Lelo says they have a new revolutionary condom it generates lots of interest. The condom has been using the same premise and basic shape since the 19thth century. If Lelo can build a better mousetrap while maintaining the benefits of no STI transmission and pregnancy prevention then it is worth a look.

Introducing Hex, the new re-engineered condom by Lelo. When you take it out of the box it certainly looks high tech. Ribbed with little hexagonal shapes all over, it espouses to be stronger than traditional condoms. It rolls on the same as usual and the texture with the raised hexagons while a little different isn’t enough for you to notice anything really unusual if you put it on in the dark.

However, it felt very similar to having no condom for me while in use. It didn’t have that rubbery feeling or the burning sensation you can get from latex, as any woman who has used a cheap, latex vibrator knows. And according to my husband, the hexagons felt different to my partner on the head of the penis. The Hex condoms were less likely to slip, and the material was thinner overall. While he said “he still had limited sensation, it was the best feeling condom ever”. And that’s saying something. As well, we tried really hard to break it. So the Hex condom was stretchy, strong and with a raised shape inside for less slipping. Maybe it is re-engineered. And while I’m not likely to go jumping up and down excitedly and tell everyone who will listen (unlike my first experience with Ora, Lelo’s oral sex toy that is one of the 7 wonders), it made reviewing a condom the way they were actually made to be used a fun and interesting experience. They are selling them online. Try them for yourself and see if you can feel a difference. I would be interested in hearing if you did.


Why connecting with a community of friends will help you live up to 7 years longer

I had lunch with an old friend of mine a few weeks ago. He was lamenting about the fact that busy lives made it hard to connect with the gang of friends that we all used to hang out with and yet he felt better when he made time for “his peeps”. It turns out that he’s not alone.

There is consistent evidence in the scientific literature that social relationships do affect health and longevity.

Most people I know, especially those with kids, find it hard to fit friends in amongst work, housework, and aging parents. The three-decade long Brigham Young University study showed that having an active community is one of the five things that affects quality of life and lets you live close to four years longer.

“People with good social relationships — friends, family and community involvement — were 50% less likely to die during study periods than those with sparse social support, the authors found. It’s an effect comparable to that of quitting smoking.” If you add things like consuming antioxidants such as green tea, getting enough Vitamin D and trace minerals, making sure you take time to de-stress during the day and actively take your holidays you have a much greater chance of being an octogenarian.

Quality friendships are more than the number of Facebook likes. The study references “a like-minded community of friends who get our humor, and have similar interests”. These are the people who are by our side in good times and bad. We need to build real human contact into our lives now more than ever. Susan Pinker, a Montreal based Developmental Psychologist researched the physiological effects of community. She offers up these key facts about those of us who make community a vital part of our lives.

Social butterflies live longer: People with a circle of friends who get together regularly live an average of 15 years longer than a loner. Friendship is good for the brain: The lowest rate of dementia appears in people with extensive social networks.

The touch of friendship: A hug, squeeze on the arm or a pat on the back lowers physiological stress responses, which in turn helps the body fight infection and inflammation.

Having a circle of friends leads to a lifetime of benefits. “In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.” However outside of school and work contacts how do adults make new connections? Hosting a “play date” with a new buddy takes on a whole new meaning outside of Elementary school. For some people making friends is easy. Many others, though, find themselves as wallflowers without having learned the nuances of working rooms and effortlessly include new potential friends in their lives. So where do you make new friends? 30% of North Americans hang out with their work friends. It’s also the place where they meet new potential partners. Lots of people use meet-ups, chat rooms, Craig’s Lists and other online forums to meet like-minded people. I have a client whose new friends have come from a monthly ukulele group. Whatever your community looks like it’s time to reach out to them. They may save your life.

It goes even further than this. In Susan Pinker’s ted Talk she lists the top two markers for longevity. It’s not genetics, stopping smoking, obesity, whether or not you’ve had previous health concerns. It’s whether or not you have three or more people you can call for help. And if you have daily social interaction. Her ted talk is worth a listen.

If you are lonely then you need to do something about it. Now. If you are in one of the three cities that host our group the Ducklings then I encourage you to come out and be included. I promise you will be seen and welcomed. If not, find a community group that sparks your interest. Ukulele playing, awe throwing, or not-your-Mother’s-book-club. Your life depends on it.








Baby Boomers sex and those sexual infections. Prudent or paranoid?

couples1We Baby Boomers are a randy bunch. It turns out that many a Boomers are doing the boom at least a few times a month. Although I am almost a Gen X born at the end of the free love of the 60’s, I have certainly been influenced by my Mother who burned her bra with Betty Freidan and my Dad who discoed up a storm.

It turns out that in the spirit of “love thy Neighbor” has continued to the Boomers who are now 50 plus. And they are doing it without as much latex as they should. They are grown ups, you think they would know better. The number of STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) are up among older adults. It’s something to be worried about yes, but is it an epidemic? There is a place in Central Florida call The Villages that hit the news because their STI percentage rates in people over 60 were up. But The stats are alarmist. The numbers are really cases that went from 5 reported in a year to 9 reported in a year. But with a 40% increase it hit USA today as a story.

The number of reportable STI’s in the entire City of Ottawa in 2010 was 2926. That’s a population of over 1 million people. The number of cases reported in people over the age of 44 was 51.

51 cases over 44 in over 1 million people. Should you be aware – yes. Should the risk of sexual infections keep you up night and prevent you from taking someone new for a test drive, I think if you’re careful -no. However, I’ll let you decide.

“For baby boomers the situation may be a bit more complicated. To begin with, there are physical changes that may increase the risk of infection. As women age, the Student BMJ researchers noted,the thinning of the lining of the vagina and a loss of lubrication make tiny abrasions more likely, creating entry points for viruses. Change in vaginal pH after menopause may also increase risk.”

More and more senior adults are trying online and multiple partner dating and may think that STI’s are something that doesn’t impact them. Add that to the use of Cialis, Viagra and the new Staxyn drugs and you’ve got sex going on longer, and more vigorously later in life (yeah!)

The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself. Here is the steps I advise to anyone having multiple partners.
1. Get the Twinrix Hepatitis A and B vaccine to protect you from 2 of the 3 Hepatitis infections. Hep C is transmitted through blood.

2. Get the Gardasil vaccine. It prevents the HPV virus transmission and the contracting of genital warts and cervical cancer. Even men can get the vaccine so they can prevent the transmission of the virus. Don’t let your physician tell you that men don’t need it. You can assure any potential partners that you are clean of the possibility of warts. And HPV is transmitted by touch so condoms alone won’t prevent the transmission.

3. Get a back up 10 day supply of antibiotics. Doctors are reluctant to just give you some, but many will give you a prescription if you are traveling. If the condom breaks, or you have an unprotected experience you can use a dose of antibiotics to prevent any bacteria based STI like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.

4. Oral sex and manual sex (hand jobs) are fairly safe provided there is no cold sores or rash present or if there is a foul infectious odor. In any case of bacteria STI’s I have ever seen, there was a smell or rash. A sniff and a check under the hood in bright light means that oral can be done without much risk of transmission.

5. Sorry, but for intercourse, condoms are the only thing that prevents transmission.

Follow the steps, get tested, and be prudent (not paranoid that doesn’t have you leaving the house) and you can be one of those hot, sexy seniors. If you are a hip Boomer (or younger) and want to stay sexy (while not turning into your parents) consider joining the Duckling social group. Sexy but safe is our mission statement.

10 new ways to stay sexy and pump up your desire

moodIt is always during the cold, dark days of January that I feel the dowdiest. My hair is darkest and misses the sunkissed highlights, my skin is driest and my makeup never goes on as well, and I am still feeling the after effects of too much Christmas cheer. And like most women, body image impacts my feelings of being sexy, despite my best intentions. So what’s a girl to do to keep her groove on?

I’m writing a new book on growing your libido and I’m slogging through the research right now. I’ve whittled the list and have come up with the quick 10 things you can start doing to increase your sexiness and have you purring on those cold, winter nights.

1. Green tea and/or extract. It’s long been known that caffeine (coffee and green tea) is an anti-oxidant and metabolism booster. It helps you detox, boosts your metabolism for energy and is naturally slimming. It’s one of the few supplements that I ALWAYS have on my counter. Have a read further.

2. Wahl massager. I’m always preaching about the plug-in kind of vibrator (forget the batteries). When you can buy it at Walgreens or Shopper’s Drug Mart and you can leave it in your sock drawer without worrying that your kids will know what it is even better. Daily, enthusiastic, vigorous stimulation of your lady parts (or protruding parts) is a great thing. Orgasms prompt the release of lots of things that boost your immune system.

3. Listen to music or better yet dance like no one is watching. We hear music before we are out of the womb, and respond to it during our lifetime. Smell and audio are connected to sexual response for women. Men are turned on by what they see, women by what we hear and imagine. Dancing brings in all of these senses and kick starts your libido.

4. Eat Chocolate. It’s really my guilty pleasure. The truth is that a small amount of dark chocolate every day is heart healthy, and has flavonoids that put you in the mood. Yeah! Choose chocolate that is over 70% cacao.

5. Vitamin D drops. I can’t say enough about making sure you get enough Vitamin D. I suggest 4-5000 mg for my low libido patients. It’s one of the things that really does impact your health and sexual desire immediately.

6. Magnesium. I suggest 240 mg of magnesium daily to help put that bounce in your step.

7. Afternoon Delight. If you can take a nap in the afternoon followed by time to be intimate, it can help you have even the most elusive of orgasms. A mid afternoon nap improves mood, alertness, and helps balance your hormone levels. And it won’t affect your night time sleep schedule. Snooze for 20 minutes, followed by a little horizontal cuddling is one of the best things you can do for your health. Afternoon is one of the best time to entice your female partner into bed according to the research from Rush University in Chicago. Sex and a nap…..hmmmm.

8. Drink regularly. I mean a glass of wine or beer a day. I just finished the book about The Blue Zones, which talks about the hot spots in the world where people routinely live to be over 100. They all (and I mean all) raised a glass of homemade wine, beer, sake or the like. Scientists still don’t know if it is alcoholic or non-alcoholic components, but who cares? Have a glass on me.

9. Throw a party (and no, I’m not talking about an orgy). With the Superbowl, Valentine’s Day or even Robbie Burns Day coming up, having a party will help you kick the doldrums. Being social is one of the key indicators for longevity and flirting with other people in a safe, harmless actually increases your testosterone level and puts you in the mood for your partner.

10. Eye gaze and schedule daily touch. Just like in the new movie with Merle Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, Hope Springs, finding time to check in sensuously and even just hold each other is huge. Eye gazing with my sweetie causes me to melt. It is profoundly intimate to touch and eye gaze. And intimacy is what most women are craving sexually. Go rent Hope Springs, get some chocolate and a glass of wine for your sweetie and curl up with some snuggling and eye gazing. If that doesn’t get you laid, take 2 aspirins and call your neighborhood sex therapist. I can be reached by skype at sue.mcgarvie and I’ll get you back on track.

A new study out this week says that erection problems can be improved with a slight weight loss.

New study suggests that men with erection problems can be improved with a 5% weight loss

Erection problems can be improved if you do some work and minimize the obvious causes.

The seven leading causes of erectile dysfunction are:

1. Diabetes

2. High blood pressure mediation

3. Anti depressants

4. High cholesterol

5. Smoking and Drinking

6. Prostate problems

7. Hormonal imbalances

There is a new study just out this week that talks about how losing just 5% of your body weight will improve your erection in 8 weeks.

“The Journal of Sexual Medicine published a new study which explains that improved erectile function, sexual desire and lower urinary tract symptoms are enhanced by weight loss in obese men with type 2 diabetes.” I suggest cutting your carb intake by 60%. You can also use an erection ring, and start doing keegal exercises (where you hold the muscle in that starts and stops the flow of urine)

The study goes on to say:
” “This important paper supports earlier publications that lifestyle is relevant and can positively affect sexual function.

At a time when oral drugs are very popular, it can now be shown that weight loss is an important non-pharmacologic therapeutic intervention in restoring erectile and urinary function and cardio-vascular health. Obesity is an epidemic, and such data reinforce the positive relationship between eating right, losing weight, improved sexual function and voiding and overall cardiovascular health.”

And boy I understand how hard it is to lose weight. I topped out once in my life at 380 pounds. I lost over half my body weight but watch it every day. Consider coming to one of my body image workshops. I also do skype and phone therapy and I use sex as a big motivating factor to help people reach their personal goals for sex and relationships. There is nothing I hate more than diet advice by Supermodels. If you love sex, but need to lose some weight to be a rock star in bed then consider reaching out.

Another reason to lose weight and stay in shape. You’ll get way more sex.

There is another study that suggests if you take care of yourself you’ll get laid more.
Duh you say?

Well the new Danish research (home of oodles of hunky blonde guys) say that if we don’t make losing weight and eating right a priority, we’ll miss out on 91%(or 78% s you’re a guy) of the sex we could have had.

It ties in with our discussion on weight loss and being healthy.

The challenge for women is that if you aren’t taking care of yourself you don’t feel like having sex.

Here’s the data:

Danish researchers surveyed more than 5,500 adult men and women, and found that unhealthy habits increase the chance of not having sex by up to 78 percent in men and 91 percent in women.

Among the men in the survey who had sexual partners, those with a large waistline had a 71 percent increase in the risk of sexual dysfunction. Hard drug users had an 800 percent increase in risk. For women, those who smoked hashish had three times the risk of losing the ability to climax during sex.

“Knowing about possible negative consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle to one”s sexual health may help people quit smoking, consume less alcohol, exercise more and lose weight,” added Frisch.

And boy I understand how hard it is to lose weight. I topped out once in my life at 380 pounds. I lost over half my body weight but watch it every day. Consider coming to one of my body image workshops. I also do skype and phone therapy and I use sex as a big motivating factor to help people reach their personal goals for sex and relationships. There is nothing I hate more than diet advice by Supermodels. If you love sex, but need to lose some weight to be a rock star in bed then consider reaching out.

4 tips to keep your relationship hot by dealing with your emotional baggage

Everyone comes into a relationship with sensitivities from a previous relationship. Even if it is your first great love you may have dealt with tempers, substance abuse, parental infidelities that impact yor current relationship.

The key to keeping it hot going forward is to own your past and not to let it get the best of you going forward.

1. You have an ex with a bad temper.
This means you are skittish about conflict. Realize conflict happens in all relationships. It’s about how you fight- not that you fight. You need to stop it before it gets ugly or anyone says something you don’t want to say. But you also have to understand that running away or pulling back at the first sign of frustration also doesn’t work. I remind my patients of the adage “the calmest person in the room always wins”.

2. Your previous partner cheated.
This means you are going to be distrustful and look into anything that might not seem kosher overly closely. Declare this upfront. And mention that ambivalent of wishy-washy information will cause your antennae to come up. Even if they are completely innocent.

3. Your ex made negative comments about how you looked.
Remind yourself that person was a dweeb. Usually it was because they are insecure and needed to put you down in order to feel better. If you don’t have a guy that tells you that you are beautiful LEAVE. Hwever don’t be insecure with your new one always fishing for compliments. Do go to the gym, the spa and do things to look good. It’s important to feel good in you own skin. The opposite sex finds that sexier above all.

4. Your past relationships have hit the bottle too hard.
You have to understand your values in this department. In my books there is a zero tolerance for things like being impaired at work, or when you have to drive, or being responsible for kids. On the other hand drinking responsibly with friends is fine. You need to outline your comfort level and remove yourself if you aren’t comfortable. Be realistic and don’t project. But also know that substance abuse is a deal breaker in any relationship as the partner will be at the emotional age of a teenager.

I’m working on a blog about “best hacks that psychologists use on themselves to fix their own emotional issues”.
A quick cheat sheet is that my top three are:
1. Emotional Freedom technique. Tapping on the trigger points to have your brain re-process emotion. Read about it.

2. Meditation. I’m a big fan of Dan Harris and his model about pulling together both sides of the brain in 5 minutes a day. Check out his book called Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.

3. Passion pursuits. Find something, anything that gives you a charge. I’m a beekeeper. I have a friend who is in a ukulele band. It keeps you from being boring.