This Week’s Squeeze: Kate Moyle
What do you think is the most common thing that holds women back in the bedroom? Is this different after having a baby?
People are so often held back by expressing themselves when it comes to sex. Because sex is a taboo subject or is considered more difficult to talk about that message is carried through by individuals into their lives and so they continue to think it is something that should not be discussed, even with the person they are having sex with. Many people feel they should prescribe to an idea of what sex 'should' be or what is 'normal' but the reality of the situation is we all have different tastes, desires and preferences, but sex is a space in which we think it shouldn't be shown. When you think about it it's quite ironic we don't mind people openly expressing their appreciation or dislike for art, fashion or food or anything else in life.
I think after having a baby is one of the times people actually try and talk about sex a bit more, because there is the understanding that in most cases a baby came from sex, and that a couple has to work to reconnect again and the assumption is that a part of that is being sexual together. The body goes through some astonishing changes through pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards; and a huge part of sex after childbirth can be about the woman feeling in touch with her body again in a way that is about her personal sensuality and pleasure, rather than in her role as caring for her baby. It's also important that for both individuals and couples, in a time of their lives when they are sleep deprived and so busy, to find time for themselves.
How could a more intimate knowledge of our own bodies change our sex lives?
In every way for the better. If we know our bodies, know what feels good for us and what gives us pleasure, and importantly when we know if something doesn't feel right, then we are educating ourselves about ourselves. This only puts us in a position to feel more confident and be better able show and tell partners what we like too, contributing to a more satisfying sexual and intimate life. The popularity of products such as Elvie and OMGYes, which offer women unique ways of learning about themselves, really says it all. People want to know. If any other part of our body didn't feel right or was causing us discomfort we would seek professional help, unfortunately this isn't always the case with a more intimate problem, which often makes it worse.
There’s often a lot of stigma and taboo around intimate health and personal pleasure. What is your top tip for couples that feel nervous when talking about sex with each other?
Talk about sex and pleasure outside of the bedroom. As a couple if you approach the topic from a place of 'our sex life is not good enough / you are not good enough' then, of course, you won't get a positive response as your partner will feel criticised. It is much better to start a conversation from a positive angle, and the idea of 'let's try something fun together that could be good for both of us' which can start a much more open conversation. Ultimately, intimate health and pleasure are still a part of being human and we shouldn't be embarrassed about that. The clitoris is the only part of the human body designed purely for pleasure with no other function, so that must be saying something.
How have you seen technology change the way couples connect to each other?
It's changed in a huge way. The wonder of technology is a couple can be across the world from each other and still talk face to face, and I think that will never fail to amaze me; but the sad thing is that it is getting in the way of couples when they are spending in-person time together. In my role as a therapist I am seeing couples when they are asking for help with a part of their sex lives or relationships, and some of that can be down to technology. It means that there is a pretty constant third wheel in our relationships, so when we are at home spending time together as a couple we are actually paying our attention to and interacting with everyone outside the room via social media etc. rather than the person in the room with us. The impact of this can also be that we are constantly comparing ourselves to how others’ relationships and lives look through a screen, and that can mean that we actually miss out on so much that is going on right in front of us. I actually encourage couples to have some tech-free time to really pay attention to each other and make each other feel special; which can be quite difficult when your partner is so constantly distracted by the notifications on their phone.
We love that you have used technology to enhance intimacy. What inspired you to create the Pillow app?
I wish I could say it was my idea to create Pillow but sadly I can't take the credit! I was approached by the amazing founder of Pillow, Darren Smith, as he had an app idea for couples which he felt could be useful for therapists too; and we got to talking and realised that we had such a like-minded approach to relationships, sex, and love and I came on board; and together with the team we developed Pillow into what it is today. It just made so much sense to me that there was so much evidence for the fact that more and more couples were finding intimacy challenging, and that they even struggled to find the time for it. Pillow fitted as a solution to help with this problem in so many ways. It is both time and space convenient, technology based without the couple having to focus on the technology, and that it provides unique follow-along audio guided intimacy episodes for couples, to make them feel closer and help them to connect. And, most importantly, we get feedback saying that it works.
What are you most excited about in your life or work right now?
There are two main focuses in terms of my work right now, one is continuing to build a busy practice and doing the Psychosexual Therapy work that I love; and the other is growing and developing Pillow App into everything that we dream it could be! I'm also currently expanding a practice that I have set up with two other Psychotherapists called The Thought House Partnership, and there we hope to offer a mix of psychotherapy and counseling so that everyone can find the right therapy and therapist to suit their needs. Being able to provide a safe, secure and confidential space for people to explore their thoughts, worries and problems is so important and integral, and it is really important that mental and psychological well-being is recognized in the same way as physical well-being.
To date, what’s been your biggest achievement in life? What about the biggest challenge?
For me going through the process of training as a Psychotherapist has been a huge achievement in itself; it's a (very rightly) rigorous process that involves self-development, as well as awareness and learning. I started my training as a Psychosexual Therapist at The Centre for Psychosexual Health in London, and then went on to complete my Masters in Relationship Therapy as I just felt that it is impossible to split difficulties of sex and relationships for people, as they are inevitably constantly impacting each other.
I would have previously said that my biggest challenge was wanting to train as a therapist as a younger person, but I don't believe that's the case anymore, as so many of the people coming to therapy are in their twenties and thirties. Many of all ages now struggle with the impact and stresses of modern life, which is further complicated by social media and the internet. I think the biggest challenge, which I am sure anyone who has created a product, launched a startup or their own business will tell you is having the confidence to build your own business and brand. There are amazing highs but also lows and when it is your own business you are the one responsible for picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and making sure that you find a solution.
What is your next big ambition?
My next big ambition is to continue to grow Pillow App. We have had great feedback, interviewed users and taken on board what we have been hearing from people so far; so we can really think about how we want to develop and grow it for the better. Pillow is designed for the people who use it, so listening to our users is incredibly valuable for us to know what we need to be doing. We want to get more experts involved to be able to offer a wider range of expertise to couples all around the world. We know that there is so much knowledge about love, intimacy and relationships in the rooms of therapists, books of experts, and workshops of so many; and being able to make that accessible to as many couples as possible is really important to us. It's the whole reason that we made Pillow in the first place.
Which women inspire you most?
I am going to have to say the women I have met in the amazing space of where sex and relationships meet tech, commonly known as #sextech but we also think it's about #lovetech. Female Founders, like Elvie's Tania Boler, Mysteryvibe's Stephanie Alys, Sarah and Farah at Hanx Condoms, and journalist and podcasters like Alix Fox. Everyone is working towards the same goal, to improve conversations and break the taboo around these sensitive issues. Silence gets none of us anywhere but by making products, we are starting these conversations about intimate health, sexuality, pleasure and more, and it's really important. Sex is one of the only parts of our lives that we keep hidden, as well as a part of our lives where we don't only experience the most problems and shame but also huge amounts of pleasure, and by not talking we just compound the problem. Each of these women is offering the world a bit of much-needed sex education in their own way and that's awesome.
What do you think it means to be a ‘strong woman’?
To be able to admit that you are also vulnerable and therefore human, and the same applies to men. We all need help sometimes whatever form that comes in and we shouldn't be afraid to ask for it or show that we need it.