Friday, December 16, 2011

Tips to Protect Yourself from STIs

Even with the best intentions, people can still get Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)from their partner. But the more informed you are, the easier it is to protect yourself and your partner from STIs. 

Here are some tips to help you avoid STIs. Consider which will work for you:
  • always use barriers like condoms or dental dams
  • choose safer sexual activities like kissing, touching and massaging
  • avoid sex altogether
  • reduce the number of partners you have sex with
  • get tested regularly
  • ask your partner if they’ve been tested or to come get tested with you
  • know how to use condoms effectively
  • talk to your partner about safer sex (protection, testing, STI history)
  • avoid sharing needles
  • avoid getting unprofessional tattoos or piercings

STIs can have different effects depending on the person and which STI it is. And STIs can even be present but show NO SYMPTOMS. They only way to really know if you have an STI is to get tested. 

For information on STIs and where to get tested in Calgary, visit us at

And to see what its like to go for STI testing, view our "How to Be a SexPert" podcast:


Friday, December 9, 2011

How to Talk with your Child about Sexuality

We live in a very sexual world.  There are messages about sex all around us - on the Internet, TV, radio.  People talk about it in locker rooms, at the mall, and in our own homes. And our kids hear it all.

But our kids don't get that much useful information from all this talk. 

We want our kids to have healthy and rewarding lives.  Teaching them about sex is an important aspect of helping them live a healthy life.  But for many of us its hard to talk about sex - especially with our own children. 

At the CHSC, we have many resources and workshops that can help you feel more comfortable with talking to your kids about sex.  And in the meantime, here are a few tips:

1. Start early.  Its best to begin as soon as they're born.  Start with basic knowledge such as learning the proper names of their body parts. Knowing their body and being comfortable talking about their body is an important first step.

2. All babies anc children explore their bodies. This is a natural and normal part of development. If we yell at them or slap their hands, they'll do it anyway - but they'll feel guilty about it. And they may learn to not trust us later in life when they're looking for guidance about other things.

3. When your 3-year-old asks "Where do babies come from?", you can keep your answers simple for now.  You could say something like "Babies grow in a special place inside the mother."  As the years, pass, you can add other details.

4. Kids aged 5 - 7 may be shy about asking questions, but they likely still have them! Find opportunities to ask them questions - maybe its asking them what they think about something you see on TV, or talking about a family friend who is pregnant. Have books on hand that you can read together to help you talk about sex.

5. Most preteens aged 8 - 12 are ready to know about sex and reproduction. They need to know about the signs of puberty and the changes that will happen to their bodies as they grow up. And they need to know how to keep themselves healthy and safe.  Keep the conversations going - find moments to spend time alone with them and talk.  Get books and pamphlets that you can read together, or that they can read on their own and then talk with you after.

6. Teens aged 13 - 18 need to learn how to say "no" and to understand what "safer sex" is. They need to know how to have relationships with other people without getting hurt, or without hurting other people.  You could ask questions such as "Are you being pressured to have sex?", "Do you know how to protect yourself from pregnancy and infections?", "How will you tell them what your limits are?".

For more help with talking to your kids about sex, give us a call at 403-283-5580 or visit us online at

And for a light-hearted look at having "The Talk", check out this hilarious video of Julia Sweeney describing one such experience with her 8 year old daughter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pam Krause, Executive Director, reflects on the year so far

Each year, we write to supporters of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre to let you know about the great work going on here. 

When I reflect at the end of each year on what we’ve managed to achieve, I’m amazed. I’m equally amazed at how the need for our work continues to change and grow. Our ability to meet this continued demand in our community is dependent on the support of people like you. 

Just some ways we answered our community’s needs last year in 2010 included:

24,415 Junior and Senior High School students experienced our comprehensive sexual health education program
76 Junior High boys took part in our WiseGuyz program, developed to specifically meet their unique needs
1989 professionals participated in workshops put on by our Training Centre and took their acquired skills back to countless clients
1,924 marginalized youth got the information they needed on sexual and reproductive health
307 individual clients received counselling on a variety of sexual health issues

We truly reach a staggering amount of people with a small but dedicated team of professionals. In a time where we see public funding shrinking for essential organizations like ours, we really do rely on support from the community to help us continue to provide these outstanding services.

We thank you all for your continued support to help us inform, educate, and advocate for our community’s sexual health needs. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Older Adults and Sexuality...Digital Stories now available on DVD

From the beginning of this work, we knew that sexuality and older adults was a topic few felt comfortable addressing.

The Seniors a GOGO project tackled this challenge by developing and performing the “Viva Vintage Monologues”, a series of stories that explore sexuality in the later years. The monologues focus on the depth of sexuality in a humorous, warm and thoughtful way.

The Seniors a GOGO digital stories
can be viewed on our Facebook page.

This led to very successful performances by the Seniors a GOGO theatre troupe at public libraries, and other venues throughout Calgary.  

Members of the Seniors a GOGO theatre troupe continue to be agency volunteers and still perform for live audiences.

The Viva Vintage Monologues were also made into digital stories to enable us to use them in future programs and training.

We are now selling a curriculum package for service providers that includes a DVD of the digital stories. We also continue to offer ongoing training to students and professionals who work with older adults.

To request a curriculum package or for information about our training options, please contact us at 403-283-5580 or visit us at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wanna talk? We're here for you.

We're good at keeping secrets.  Maybe too good. 

We're generally known in the community for the outreach and education services we provide.  But its not as well known in the broader community that we also offer one-on-one confidential counselling.

Last year we provided counselling services to 307 individuals, offering confidential information, support, and referrals on a diverse range of sexual health issues. 

Our counsellors offer support and information on sexually transmitted infections, sexual orientation and gender identity, birth control options, pregnancy options, sexuality and disability, and many other health issues.  For our counsellors, each one-on-one counselling session with a client can require hours of prep and research to ensure the client is supported.

We support Calgarians of all ages, providing access to sexual health information across the life span:

- 41% of our counselling clients last year were aged 10-19
- 36% were aged 20-29
- 12% were aged 30-39
- 5% were aged 41-60
- and 6% did not disclose their age

Need to talk?  Got questions?  We're here for you when you're ready.

Phone:  403-283-5580

Friday, September 16, 2011

School's back! And so are we!

With summer holidays behind us and a new school year underway, we are looking forward to another great year of providing our comprehensive sexual health education program to classrooms across Calgary!

Our school-based sex ed program works within the Alberta Education curriculum, and has been a recommended resource of the Calgary Board of Education since 1975.

We offer education programs to inform, motivate and help youth make health choices about their sexuality.  Last year, we offered programs at 23 junior and senior high schools, reaching 24,415 students in Calgary and the surrounding areas.

We've seen some great results through surveys in the classrooms:

  • 75% identified they now have knowledge of sexual health issues such as pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infections, and condom use.
  • 63% identified they now have an understanding of diverse sexual orientations and the impact of homophobia.
  • 81% identified they now have confidence in making sexual health decision.

These results are encouraging. But perhaps even more inspiring for us is when we receive comments like this:

"The program motivated one student to have a very serious sit down conversation with her mother about her choices, and that she wanted her mother to go to the Dr with her.  They really had not spoken in years.  This is what education should be."
- CALM Teacher

Here's to another great year ahead of informing our city's youth about healthy choices, and providing them with the tools to achieve sexual well-being.

If you are a teacher and would like more information about our school-based programs, please contact us at 403-283-5580 or

Friday, August 26, 2011

Creating a Culture of Respect for LGBT Youth

We all have a responsibility.

LGBT youth are diverse, with complex needs.  To adequately support these diverse youth, we must first create a safe space for LGBT youth to access our services.

As professionals – and as human beings – we all have an ethical responsibility to ensure our services are accessible to all youth.

Recent research in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality found Service Provider recommendations for improved service delivery and programming for LGBT youth focused on two key areas:

  • the need for training at all youth-relevant agencies, and
  • the need for agency policy change.

You can Create a Culture of Respect for LGBT Youth. We can help.

We offer three levels of support to help your organization create a culture of respect:  professional training, customized in-service training, and policy development. 

Please see the banner to the right for more details.

For more information or to register:  
Contact Valerie Barr at 403.283.5580 ext. 317 or

Friday, July 22, 2011

WiseGuyz: engaging young men in sexual health programming

In today's blog, our own Blake Spence reflects on the first year of the WiseGuyz Program.

The WiseGuyz Program began in February 2010 with a focus to engage young men in a sexual health program that would address their specific needs.  The research report we produced in 2008, Promoting Sexual Health for Young Men, confirmed that young men face significant barriers in accessing sexual health information.  We knew we had to learn the best method to present material and how to create a safe space for the group to discuss sexual health, relationships, and masculinity. Information was presented in styles ranging from a casual drop-in basis, to a facilitated group discussion, to a structured program.  We reached 52 young men in various settings during this phase of the project.

After piloting the program in various settings, we decided that focusing on the junior high population would have the most impact.  The transition to high school is significant. If young men are equipped with tools to help them deal with the pressures, decisions and multiple stresses teens face in high school, we are confident that they will have better outcomes overall.

Twenty-four grade 9 boys completed the program in 2010.  We are very proud of the program content, activities and skill building opportunities provided to the young men and the positive impact it is having.

The WiseGuyz program reached 76 young men and partnered with 3 Junior High Schools.

The first year of WiseGuyz has been amazing to be part of. We have created a program that I am extremely proud of as it is thoroughly enjoyed by participants and is fundamental to their development as responsible young men.

Blake Spence
WiseGuyz Program Coordinator

"I would like to thank you for brining WiseGuyz to Sherwood School. The boys have spoken very positively about it, and appreciate (and adore) you and your efforts.  I suppose one sad thing is that the more work you do with these boys, the greater need we see for programming such as this to help young men develop healthy skills, relationships and accurate knowledge about sexual health issues."
- Alex McKay, Principal of Sherwood Community School

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

AGM - Message from the Executive Director and President

Last night, we invited the community to join us as we took a look back over the 2010 year at our Annual General meeting. We are thrilled to report on an amazing year at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.  We continued to focus on community impact and responding to emerging community needs.  We are offering new programs, finding new ways of interacting with people, and continuing to deliver the core services we have provided to the community for 39 years.

We are particularly proud of our partnerships and collaborations with community organizations. We have worked with determination to ensure that sexual and reproductive health is accepted as an integral part of human development across the lifespan.

Seniors A GOGO is a great example of how our collaborative model has created an environment for innovative and sustainable program development:

From the beginning of this work, we knew that sexuality and older adults was a topic few felt comfortable addressing. Seniors A GOGO tackled this challenge by developing and performing the "Viva Vintage Monologues", a series of stories that explore sexuality in a humorous, warm and thoughtful way. This led to very successful performances at public libraries, and other venues throughout Calgary.

We were less successful reaching seniors directly. Traditional taboos still leave many seniors feeling uncomfortable talking about sex and sexuality. We learned that the senior's community was not yet prepared to have open conversations about sexuality.

As with many of our programs, we took what we learned and created a professional development workshop. "Supporting Sexual Health with Seniors" is delivered to nursing and LPN students, as well as other professionals that regularly provide support to seniors as they transition in their lives.

We now have successful partnerships with the nursing schools at Bow Valley College, the UofC and MRU. Seniors facilities also began to recognize that, as the population was changing, staff would have to feel comfortable addressing sexuality issues. Training has taken place at some care facilities in Calgary and we look forward to more partnerships in 2011.

As this program moved into its second year, we set up "Seniors A GOGO Service Providers Collaborative". Professionals who work directly with older adults are helping to guide the next steps in our work with seniors, and advocate for the inclusion of sexual health within seniors care and support services.

Seniors A GOGO has been generously supported, but only with project funding. We knew this valuable work needed to be maintained and the demand for programs would increase. The Viva Vintage Monologues were made into digital stories to enable us to use them in future programs and training. In 2011, we will be selling a curriculum package for service providers that includes a DVD of the digital stories.

Members of the Seniors A GOGO theatre troupe have become agency volunteers and still perform for live audiences. We continue to offer ongoing training to students and professionals who work with older adults.

In 2011, we will begin advocacy work to ensure the sexual health rights of older adults are respected and that professionals understand their roles and responsibilities in this regard.

We have successfully adopted this model in many areas of our work. We know it is very important to first normalize sexuality for service providers and clients, and then develop appropriate programs that address their specific needs.

We are also dedicated to finding innovative ways to ensure our programs are sustainable. This has led us to develop social enterprise initiatives and to create an ambitious three year fund development plan. We are committed to seeking additional funding partners, and increasing our independent revenue, so that we continue our essential work long into the future.

Moving into our 40th year, we remain fiercely committed to building a society where sexuality is celebrated, diversity is embraced, reproductive choice is assured and sexual health is seen as an integral part of us from birth to old age. We remain unswervingly loyal to our vision and to continuing to find new ways of achieving our goals.

We want to take this opportunity to thank the staff, volunteers and community partners whose efforts led to the successes of 2010. To summarize this work, last year our 12 staff and 30 volunteers:

    - partnered with, and provided programs to the clients of, 65 organizations
    - presented at 11 conferences
    - attended 22 community events
    - participated in 18 community collaborations and committees
    - established 3 advisory committees


In total, we reached 42,343 Calgarians with programs, information and resources regarding healthy sexuality. As a result, all of these Calgarians are closer to achieving sexual well-being.

Thanks to our funders and donors for ensuring we have the resources necessary to complete our work. And, thank you to all of our community supporters who help the Calgary Sexual Health Centre thrive and remain a vibrant part of our community.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Seniors A GOGO Too! A little older, a little wiser...

Hot off their performance at this year's Fairy Tales Film Fest, our Seniors A GOGO group is ready to take the spotlight once again! 

In celebration of Seniors Week (June 6-12), we are pleased to unveil the follow-up series to our ever-popular Seniors A GOGO digital stories.

Join us for a gala presentation of a new series of digital stories, developed by Seniors A GOGO.

     Thursday, June 9th at 2:00 pm
     Garrison Green Seniors community Theatre
     3028 Don Ethell Blvd. SW

     Wine and cheese reception to follow the show.

About Seniors A GOGO
Have you ever wondered why no one talks about sexuality after 60? Our Seniors A GOGO group of dedicated seniors has been working to provide insight into just that. This committed and tenacious group has been meeting, laughing and sharing their experiences with love, loss and sexuality to create a series of stage readings, monologues and digital stories.
Seniors A GOGO is a partnership of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, The Senior's Action Group and the Foundation Lab.  We are committed to breaking down the barriers to better address the sexual health needs of Calgary's aging population.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The "First Time"...Part 2

Our next episode of the “How To Be A Sexpert” podcast is PART 2 of our discussion about “First Times”.

When it comes to sex, the pressure of the first time can cause all kinds of anxiety.   To reduce the stress, it is really important that you feel ready for the experience.  So, before you get into the heat of the moment, decide if you are ready to become sexually active.
In this episode of our "How To Be A Sexpert" podcast, our SexPerts talk about their decisions and thoughts about "First Times".

Friday, May 20, 2011

Seniors A GOGO to perform at Fairy Tales Film Fest!

We're thrilled to announce that our Seniors A GOGO troupe will be taking the stage at this year's Fairy Tales Gay & Lesbian Film Festival!

Have you ever wondered why no one talks about sexuality after 60? Our Seniors A GOGO group of dedicated seniors has been working to provide insight into just that. This committed and tenacious group has been meeting, laughing and sharing their experiences with love, loss and sexuality to create a series of stage readings, monologues and digital stories.

Their performance at Fairy Tales will follow a screening of the documentary "GEN SILENT" which tackles the subject of GLBTQ Seniors aging alone. 

Directed by Stu Maddux, this film reveals how the generation that fought the hardest to come out is going back in to survive.

7 PM | The Plaza Theatre | PG
We're excited to have our Seniors take part in the Fairy Tales Film Fest this year! 

For details about the GEN SILENT film, check the Fairy Tales website at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is Homophobia in your vocabulary?

When was the last time you heard a gay joke? Last week. How often do you hear people use the words "fag" or "dyke" as a compliment? Never. When someone says something is "totally gay" what are the chances they mean something positive? None.

Derogatory jokes and comments about sexual orientation are so common that they have become accepted as part of our everyday language. So what's the big deal? Well, these seemingly harmless jokes and remarks are hurtful and send a strong message that being LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) is unacceptable. They are part of the reason that many LGBT teens don't dare come out and suffer in silence instead of risk alienation from their peers.

It's called homophobia.

Today - May 17th - is International Day Against Homophobia.  Today offers all of us another opportunity to make a concrete effort in our own lives to counter homophobia.

What is Homophobia?
Homophobia is an irrational fear and/or hatred of same-sex attractions that can be expressed through prejudice, discrimination, harassment or acts of violence (known as "bashing"). When this prejudice and discrimination is directed at transsexual and transgendered people it is known as Transphobia.

Homophobia and transphobia are not just experienced by people who are LGBT but by people who are thought to be LGBT because they do not necessarily fit in with assigned gender roles.  This demonstrates confusion about gender and sexual orientation. Gender refers to the behaviours that a culture assigns to being male or female.  Sexual orientation is who you are sexually attracted to.

Heterosexism is the assumption that everyone is, or should be, heterosexual and that heterosexuality is the only normal, natural or good expression of sexuality. This attitude pervades our culture and impacts the day to day lives of  LGBT individuals.  Through language, culture, media, and institutions LGBT individuals receive the message, “you are not included here”.  The result is a homophobic culture that fears rather than includes LGBT individuals.

Homophobia and transphobia are easier to spot because they involve behaviour that actively puts LGBT people down. Heterosexism is less likely to be noticed because it doesn't mean that LGBT people are being negatively targeted but that the whole world excludes them – it is in the air they must breathe.

What can we do to fight Homophobia?
Fight heterosexism! 
What is heard!
Be conscious of what you say and do on a daily basis to exclude LGBT citizens.  If you are a teacher, parent, counselor or coworker, use the term “partners” when referring to intimate relationships and ask, “Are you seeing someone?”  rather than “Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?” 
Remove derogatory comments and jokes about sexual orientation from your own everyday language.  Today is an opportunity to let your children, friends or co-workers know that from now on slurs such as "fag(got)", "dike", "homo" and any other derogatory remarks toward gays and lesbians will no longer be tolerated out of respect for gays and lesbians and their immediate families.
What is seen!
Whether you are a librarian, own a car dealership or are a youth worker, be sure to display messages and materials that represent all sexual orientations and show gender diversity.
Let’s work towards a vision of a society that embraces diversity in all its forms.  A society where all members regardless of their sexual orientation or gender feel accepted and celebrated for who they are and their unique contribution.

We invite you to share this blog with your networks, and help continue the conversation.

Thank you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Youth & Sex: Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions!

In honour of International Youth Week, we are sharing some answers to a few of the common questions we receive from youth about sex and sexuality   For more information about these topics, and many more, visit us online at or give us a call at 403-283-5580.

If I talk to my teacher or school counsellor about sexual issues, do they have to tell my parents?

It depends. Information you share is usually kept private unless there is a risk of harm to you or another person. For example, if a young person told a teacher or school counsellor that he or she was being sexually abused, the counsellor may have a responsibility to report it. If you are unsure and concerned, before you share details you can ask if the type of information on your mind can or will be kept private.

Can I see a doctor without my parents’ permission to get birth control?

Yes. If you are worried, ask your doctor how they feel about keeping your information private from your parents. If you don't like what you hear, you can go to one of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinics in Calgary. These clinics have services just for young people, and will respect your privacy. They also have birth control and condoms at lower cost. You can also talk to a counsellor at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre about your options. But we are not a clinic and cannot give you a prescription for birth control.

Can a person masturbate 10 times a day?

Everyone is different. Some people masturbate every day and other people don’t. If you want to masturbate ten times a day and it isn’t getting in the way of school, homework or other responsibilities, then it is up to you. If you masturbate a lot, you may want to use a water-based lubricant like K-Y Jelly (you can buy lubricants from any drugstore) so that you don’t irritate your skin.

What does Popping the Cherry mean?

Popping the cherry is a slang term for when a woman has vaginal sex for the first time and her hymen stretches and bleeds. A hymen is usually a very thin layer of skin. It is naturally stretched with physical activity, sexual activity or using tampons. Some may bleed a little and some may not.

A hymen that has not been stretched is often considered a sign that a woman has “lost her virginity”. Most women actually don’t have am “intact” hymen by the time they start having sex. To have a good first experience with sex it helps if both people feel relaxed and aroused and are paying attention to what feels comfortable physically and emotionally. The key here is to talk to each other and go slow.

What makes people gay?

Scientists still aren’t sure whether people are born with their sexual orientation or whether it develops over time. What they do know for sure is it’s not something people can change about themselves. A person might want to use the label “gay” if they find their sexual attraction is mostly toward people of the same sex as themselves. It is normal to have some sexual feelings or a lot of sexual feelings for people the same sex as yourself. Attraction is as simple and uncontrollable as who makes your heart flutter. Curiosity and attraction toward people the same sex as yourself is totally okay and it’s up to each person what label, if any, they want to put on it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

May I Have This Dance?

Slow Dance Party
in support of CSHC

Sunday, May 1, 2011
8:30-11:30 pm
Club Sapien (1140 10th Ave SW)
$8 in advance, $10 at the door

In a society that values multi-tasking and tireless productivity, sometimes we need to be reminded that slow is beautiful. Join us for a change of pace at Calgary's first Slow Dance Party!

Every song is a slow song, so you can sway the night away in the arms of your partner, friends and cute strangers. Keep track of your dance partners with a special Dance Card, and erase your memories of awkward high school dances with an evening of songs selected for maximum slow-dancibility.

Feeling shy? For all the wallflowers, there will be Designated Dancers to help get you swaying, and Secret Mailboxes so you can drop a note to a slow-dancer that catches your eye.

The dancing starts at 8:30 pm, but come early to enjoy a fantastic dinner at Club Sapien.  The Slow Dance Party welcomes slow-dancers of every gender and sexuality.

The Slow Dance Party is presented by We Should Know Each OtherGirlTalk EventsVenus Envy and Club Sapien

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Calgary Sexual Health Centre. Thanks for your support!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guest Blog: Sexuality and Cancer

By Reanne Booker, Nurse Practitioner, MN BScN
Thank you to Reanne Booker for writing today's guest blog in honour of Daffodil Day.

There is nothing sexy about cancer. I suppose it should then come as no surprise that sex is not always the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about cancer. However, for individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer, sexuality is often profoundly affected and the subsequent impact on quality of life can be devastating.
Altered sexuality is a seemingly ubiquitous consequence of cancer and its treatment. Often, the cancer itself can directly affect sexuality by impairing function of the parts of the body involved in sexual activity or by altering hormone production that in turn, affects how the sex organs function.  In addition, the various modalities of treatment - surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy - can all affect sexual function. Examples of sexual dysfunction include decreased interest or desire, difficulties achieving or maintaining erections, inability to ejaculate or ejaculation into the bladder, inability to achieve orgasm, painful intercourse and ovarian failure. Further, the cancer and its treatment may induce side effects such as fatigue, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea or neuropathy that may contribute to impaired sexual function. An array of psychological factors, such as body image, self-esteem, altered mood, depression, anxiety, perceived lack of control and fear may contribute to altered sexual function and sexuality. Fertility may be temporarily or permanently affected by cancer or its treatment.
I have been continually reminded that sexuality is an integral part of quality of life and is a fundamental component of what it means to be a human being. Intimacy – physical, emotional or otherwise – connects us one another. Sexuality, therefore, may be as important to an 87 year-old as it is to an 18 year-old.
I have heard that at times, sex may take a back seat to matters concerning life and death but I have also been told that for some, it is during those very moments that intimacy becomes even more important. It also bears mentioning that there are millions of cancer survivors throughout the world and while many of the effects of cancer and its treatment fade with time, changes in sexuality may linger for many years beyond the completion of treatment.
For individuals who have experienced changes in sexuality following a cancer diagnosis and their partners or spouses, support is available. Talk to your health care provider if you would like more information.


Fertility:     [Canadian]     [American]

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Its International Hemophilia Day! Let’s talk Sexuality and Hemophilia

At CSHC, we recognize that sexuality is integral to human development across the lifespan.  Daily, we work towards our vision:  “A society where sexuality, in all its dimensions, is considered a normal and healthy expression of life and everyone has the right and the ability to make informed choices to achieve sexual well-being.”
This includes people with chronic illness – such as hemophilia. 
According to an article by K. L. Parish of the Hemophilia Foundation of Southern California, “As an integral part of the ‘whole person’ with hemophilia, sexuality needs to be considered and understood by those providing the healthcare, in order for them to be available, effective, and comprehensive in bringing about meaningful positive outcomes.”
She points to the biopsychosocial model of medical care for chronic illnesses and the comprehensive care model for hemophilia that consider the interdependence of all aspects of a person:  physical, social and psychological. For example: 
  • pain can interfere with desire and ability to engage in sex, but sexual behavior may help reduce pain
  • frequent hospital visits can cause separations from partner
  • medications can cause fatigue or body changes
  • poor judgment can contribute to poor decision-making under pressure (and failure to use a condom)
These examples demonstrate how sexuality cannot be separated from the experience of hemophilia, its symptoms, complications and treatments. 
Despite its importance, there is a lack of literature concerning sexuality and chronic illness - which begs some important questions:  Are these connections not being made with people with hemophilia?  How do we begin to have these important conversations?  Who needs to be involved?  How do we get over the barriers that exist?
Just beginning the conversation lets the person know that sexuality can be talked about and that you as a service provider or parent can be trusted. 
As Parish proclaims, “Sexuality has a valid place in comprehensive care for hemophilia.  Discussions with health care providers about sexuality offer people with hemophilia an opportunity to be understood and supported in their quest for resolutions and fulfillment.”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How volunteers help 20,000 more Calgarians make healthy choices

By Talia Kaufman, CSHC Volunteer Coordinator
Being a very small non-profit with a broad long term vision, we benefit from volunteers in a big way. Having a fleet of sexual health experts to deploy anywhere from the Taboo Sex Show to the Seniors Living Fair has let us reach out to literally thousands more Calgarians than we ever have before.
Two years ago the CSHC created a volunteer program to support the agency with its community outreach activities. Since then the agency has benefitted from the energy and support of many amazing people who are dedicated to our cause. These individuals bring with them diverse experiences, perspectives, skills and knowledge, all of which are huge assets to our work. 
Volunteers have strengthened this agency in many ways since its beginnings in the early 70s, and they continue to do so. Currently our volunteer army is comprised of several “battalions” – the Board of Directors, the older adults who are the stars of the Seniors a Go-Go theatre project and the digital story series, and those who support our community outreach work directly in the office and at public events.
Our volunteers bring their sexual health expertise with them wherever they go. Among their friends, within their families, and in their work they are safe people to ask about sexual health. We are grateful to have them as our full time advocates and allies.

Today's blog celebrates our volunteers in honour of National Volunteer Week (NVW).  Each year, NVW pays tribute to the millions of Canadian volunteers who graciously donate their time and energy. This year’s 68th annual NVW takes place the week of April 10 to 16. It is Canada’s largest celebration of volunteers, volunteerism, and civic participation.
Volunteers: Passion. Action. Impact. is the theme of this year’s campaign. It is based on the individual volunteer super-heroes across Canada who dedicate themselves to making their communities better – and Canada a great place to live.